Houston, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/17/2015 --A U.S. District Court extended the deadline to file all claims related to the sinking of S.S. El Faro by 90 days. This extension gives the family members of the victims until February 16, 2016 to evaluate and file their claims.
All 33 crew members on board El Faro died when the 40-year-old cargo ship sank east of the Bahamas on October 2. On its final voyage to Puerto Rico, the vessel lost propulsion and started retaining water after it encountered Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin.
Failure to comply with the February 19, 2016 deadline may result in a claim being defaulted or barred. Maritime attorneys at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, LLP (SMSH) are representing the family members of Sylvester C. Crawford, a 40-year-old father who was a crew member aboard El Faro.
"It is important that the family members of these crew members follow the strict deadline as to not forfeit their right to a claim on behalf of their loved ones," said Matthew D. Shaffer, SMSH partner and maritime attorney.
Approximately one month after the tragedy, Tote Maritime, the ship's owner and employer of the crew members, filed a complaint to limit its liability for the losses stemming from the tragedy. Tote Maritime seeks to cap its liability at no more than approximately $15 million, a value based on the ship's tonnage. When the Limitation of Liability Complaint was filed, the courts originally ordered all claims for compensation related to the accident to be filed by December 21.
It is possible, however, to defeat a Limitation of Liability Complaint. The attorneys at SMSH beat a Limitation of Liability complaint filed by a shipowner on December 15. In this case, SMSH represents the family of an 8-year-old boy who sustained life threatening injuries during a recreational jet boat tour. The shipowner tried to limit its liability for losses to the value of the jet boat. SMSH fought to defeat this complaint – and won. Now, the shipowner will face the family in state court without the protection of the Limitation of Liability Complaint.
About Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, LLP
Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, LLP has represented individuals like the Crawford family for over 50 years across the United States. Its attorneys have over 100 years of combined trial experience in holding employers and shipowners responsible for serious maritime accidents and deaths.
Family members affected by the El Faro tragedy are strongly advised to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss their legal rights in light of the court's upcoming deadline to file claims. If you or a loved one was injured in a maritime or offshore accident, call 800-282-2122 today to speak to an attorney at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, LLP for a free, confidential consultation. Legal assistance is available both in English and Spanish (Español).