Wrongful Death Of The El Faro Crew
Will the company contend that DOHSA provides the exclusive remedy by which the survivors can have recovery against it for the wrongful death
of their husbands? In other cases the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court and remanded for further proceedings. Because the fatalities underlying this suit did not arise from an accident in the area covered by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C.S. § 1331 et seq.
, but rather occurred on the high seas,
DOHSA controlled. Section 7 of DOHSA acted as a jurisdictional saving clause, and not as a guarantee of the applicability of state substantive law to wrongful deaths
on the high seas.
On that basis, it was determined that the relevant state wrongful death
statutes were preempted by DOHSA where DOHSA applied.
Two Laws Apply
The families of crew members could sue the El Faro owner TOTE Maritime under two different federal laws. Both the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act can apply.
Jones Act Lawsuit
Under the Jones Act a plaintiff must prove negligence on the part of an employer or because of the unseaworthy condition of the ship.
In Order To Proceed
Relatives, including spouses and parents of crew members must first go to the probate court in the location which the crew member lived and file a petition to become the personal representative of the deceased. Probate judges most often accept letters sent by the U.S. Coast Guard stating their loved ones’ remains were not recovered as proof of death, Welte said. The court then issues a declaration of death, after which, a lawsuit can be filed.
This lawsuit comes under Maritime injury law and is not a typical personal injury-wrongful death lawsuit. If you lost a loved one in the El Faro sinking you will need to hire a lawyer experienced in Maritime injury law.