Legal proceedings are underway for those involved in a fatal boat fire that took place on September 2, 2019 near the Channel Islands in the Santa Barbara area. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, surviving victims and the families of those who were killed in the incident are exploring their legal options. However, filing wrongful death or personal injury claims may prove to be more challenging for these victims and their families, as the boat’s owners are claiming that maritime law could protect them from having to compensate the victims.

A Mysterious Outbreak

In the hours before dawn on September 2, a commercial diving boat known as the Conception erupted into flames. The 33 passengers were trapped down below and eventually died, along with a crewmember who was sleeping below deck. The captain, along with the remaining crew members, were sleeping above deck and were able to survive the fire. After two weeks of thoroughly investigating the remains of the vessel, federal authorities have still not found the cause of the fire. Officials are now turning their attention to documents they procured from Truth Aquatics, Inc., the Conception’s owner. Many other investigations conducted by the Coast Guard, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, are ongoing.

What Invoking Maritime Law Could Mean

In traditional personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits filed in California, the victims attempt to hold those responsible for their suffering financially and publicly accountable for their harmful actions. However, Glen and Dana Fritzler, owners of Truth Aquatics Inc., worked quickly to file a petition invoking the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, which would remove liability from the boat’s owners. This antiquated maritime law was originally created for an era in which those in the shipping industry were unable to obtain or provide insurance. Of course, now that most maritime vessels are insured, these insurance companies often push for this legal strategy in order to avoid massive financial payouts. Sadly, since Truth Aquatics Inc. already filed this petition before any victims or their families were able to file their own lawsuits in California state court, the legal battle may now be forced, by nature of the maritime law, to be handled in federal court, which could potentially and significantly limit the amount of payouts the victims receive.

Support For a Brighter Future

Even though the petition has been filed, victims and their families still have the legal right to pursue compensation for their suffering and losses. While facing a long and challenging legal battle can be overwhelming, having a reliable and experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney by your side can give you the confidence and comfort you need during this difficult time. Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation proudly serves clients in Murrieta, Temecula, and throughout Southern California, helping them receive the compensation they deserve. Call 1-888-931-WORK (9675) today to learn more.