According to the Florida Times-Union, a court ordered lawsuit deadline for family members of the El Faro disaster has been extended to February 19, 2016.
Originally, the court ordered a deadline of December 21. However, it found that this date did not give parties enough time to prepare claims. The new deadline was requested by several insurance companies representing organizations that suffered cargo losses and the family members of lost crewmembers, according to the Times-Union.
As we have noted in several blogs, El Faro’s operator, TOTE Maritime, has filed a Petition for Limitation of Liability in an attempt to limit the amount of money it may have to pay to family members. If allowed, family members of the 33 crewmembers aboard the vessel would only receive about $400,000, due to the petition.
Many maritime attorneys are expected to argue against the Petition for Limitation of Liability in that TOTE Maritime had privity or knowledge of the unseaworthiness of the vessel and negligence conditions on the vessel.
In the video below, maritime attorney David Anderson discusses Petitions for Limitation of Liability and how they can be difficult for family members following a tragedy.
The El Faro was on its way to Puerto Rico from Jacksonville when it was lost at sea this fall. Wreckage was later found by federal investigators, although the vessel’s data recorder was never recovered.
What’s Next for El Faro Family Members?
Many people see the El Faro deadline extension as a positive thing for family members, who often have short periods to seek out legal claims following maritime disasters. At this time, many family members are probably weighing settlement offers and how to move forward with litigation.
Having experienced maritime counsel following a disaster is important in the aftermath of an incident, as a person can greatly limit his or her ability to collect compensation, if he or she makes a poor legal decision during the initial stages of litigation.
Continue to follow our blog for more El Faro news. The law firm of Latti & Anderson LLP has offices in Boston and New Bedford, Mass., but represents clients nationwide.