Last September, an early morning boat crash claimed the life of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and his two companions, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias. The crash happened when the pitching ace’s boat ran aground into a stone jetty between PortMiami and the open ocean. Families of the two men killed with Fernandez recently filed personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against his estate, claiming that the baseball player’s negligence led to the men’s deaths.
When careless or reckless behavior causes an injury or a death, whoever caused the accident or injury can be held responsible for paying damages in civil court—even if that person did not survive the same accident. If your loved one was killed because of someone else’s negligence, our experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys can help.
Mystery Surrounds Crash
Investigators are still attempting to determine exactly what happened that night. According to reports from witnesses, Fernandez was seen drinking in bars on the night of September 24, 2016. After an argument with his girlfriend, Fernandez contacted Rivero and Macias and convinced them to take a late-night sailing trip. The men eventually got into the pitcher’s boat, Kaught Looking, and sailed into the harbor. Shortly after 3 a.m. on September 25, the boat crashed into the jetty and flipped onto the rocks, killing everyone onboard.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decided to conduct a criminal investigation into the accident after noting that all of the bodies at the scene smelled like alcohol. According to the Commission’s initial report, the crash scene was consistent with a high-speed collision, and the driver’s recklessness was likely exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Toxicology reports found that Fernandez had ingested cocaine and was intoxicated with a .147 blood alcohol level. Rivero and Macias also had alcohol in their systems, but their blood alcohol levels were under the legal limit for driving or sailing.
Investigators for the Fish and Wildlife Commission have not yet determined which man was sailing the boat. However, some evidence suggests Fernandez may not have been at the wheel. For example, one report notes that Fernandez was on the phone at the time of the crash, and was heard yelling at someone to “Go left! Go left!” shortly before the phone call ended abruptly.
At the time of the crash, Fernandez’ girlfriend was pregnant. She gave birth to the pitcher’s only child, a daughter named Penelope, on February 24, 2017.
Who is Negligent After an Accident?
When there are no survivors after an accident, it can be difficult to figure out what caused the collision. Often, the families of victims will need to wait until an investigation is completed before receiving concrete answers about who was negligent.
In general, a person is negligent and legally responsible for an accident if he or she failed to act with reasonable care. This means that usually, the person being sued in a personal injury or wrongful death case is the person responsible for driving (or sailing) the vehicle. However, the driver may not be the only person responsible for a collision.
Florida law contains what is called the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine,” which holds an owner responsible for injuries caused by an inherently dangerous tool or vehicle. Under this doctrine, the owner of an inherently dangerous vehicle like a boat is responsible for making sure that the boat is sailed in a safe and careful manner. Under this doctrine, even if Fernandez was not driving, his estate could still be responsible to the families of the other victims simply because he owned the boat. This is especially true if Fernandez failed to take steps to ensure that whoever was driving the boat was sober, licensed, and trained on boat safety.
The families of both men killed with Fernandez filed lawsuits against the pitcher’s estate seeking $2 million each. Fernandez’ estate is estimated to be worth approximately $2-3 million total. It is likely that the families of both men are hoping to reach a settlement with the estate rather than pursue the case to trial. Whether or not the estate will settle will likely depend on the final results of the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s investigation.
Get Help After Injuries Caused by Negligence
Accidents like these are tragedies that no family should have to face. When a loved one is killed due to someone else’s negligence, all the money in the world won’t help that family recover from their deep personal loss. However, monetary damages can help the surviving family cover the medical expenses, funeral costs, and other expenses involved with losing a loved one.
After an accident, get the experienced legal help you need from Gerson & Schwartz P.A. Our Miami personal injury attorneys have over 80 years of combined experience representing injured people, and can help you seek justice after an injury caused by negligence. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today by calling (877) 475-2905.