Attorneys representing the families of four victims who died in a dive boat fire in Southern California in September have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the boat’s owners. The tragedy claimed the lives of 34 people.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, negligence on the part of the boat’s owners and captain caused the deaths of the passengers and crew when the vessel began burning at approximately 3:15 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2019. All of the victims were trapped in the sleeping quarters below deck. Five crew members, including the captain, were sleeping on the top deck and survived.
The inferno was investigated by teams from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A final report has yet to be released, but investigators believe one possible cause of the blaze could have been lithium ion batteries for diving equipment that were being charged below deck. According to the lawsuit, no one was awake when the fire started, which violated a law requiring the presence of a night watchman. In addition, the claim alleges that the boat didn’t have adequate fire protections. Just days after the fire, the boat’s owners filed a federal lawsuit claiming that an 1851 maritime law protected them from paying financial damages to the victims. One of the victim’s attorneys called the claim “a heartless, callous act.”
When individuals lose their lives due to the negligent actions of another party, their next of kin has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for their losses. If the suit is successful, the victims’ families might receive a settlement that covers lost income, loss of companionship, pain and suffering before death, mental anguish and other related damages. Families may learn more about their legal rights by speaking to a personal injury attorney.