The lawsuits are the beginning of what is likely to be a drawn-out legal battle over the estate of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who also died in the crash. It’s believed his estate had more potential value than actual assets.
An autopsy performed on the 24-year-old All Star revealed he was legally drunk and reportedly had cocaine in his system. The trio were killed when the boat crashed off the shores of South Beach. A key point is likely to be who was operating the boat at the time of the fatal crash. Although Fernandez owned the vessel, it’s not clear who was actually behind the wheel.
The two men killed, a 25-year-old friend of Fernandez’s and a 27-year-old acquaintance, met through their girlfriends just hours before the boating accident. Their families have raised $40,000 each through GoFundMe fundraisers. This has helped to cover expenses for the funerals and other unexpected costs that arose with their deaths.
The older man was a banker for a large financial firm, while the younger was a sales representative for a cruise line.
Attorneys for the plaintiff said they are not aiming for drawn-out litigation if it can be avoided and are open to resolving their claims via settlement.
However, Fernandez’s family said it’s not likely these claims will be resolved via settlement, particularly given that the baseball player had announced days before he died that his girlfriend was pregnant with his child. That baby, a girl, is due to be born soon.
The defendant’s attorney added that the investigation underway by the state’s fish and wildlife conservation commission was not yet finished, but he anticipates it will show the player was not operating the vessel when it crashed. Furthermore, he added, there was evidence Fernandez may not have realized he consumed cocaine that night.
The baseball player was born in Cuba and had lived in the U.S. since 2008. He was drafted by the Miami Marlins within three years and began playing in the major leagues in 2013. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year.
However, he suffered an elbow injury that kept him on the bench until his death.
His mother has filed the legal paperwork to be the administrator of his estate, which is valued at around $3 million. Just before he died, he was preparing to sign a contract that would have paid him $30 million annually for life.
Over the course of his life, he earned $6.5 million. His estate took in $1 million in accidental death insurance, plus another $450,000 life insurance policy. All of that sounds like a lot, but it may not go far, particularly given that each of the two plaintiffs is seeking $2 million.
According to the 2015 boating accident fatalities report by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 166 boating accidents that year, with 21 of those being fatal. That was with 375,000 registered vessels in the state. That’s compared to 130 boating accidents resulting in 23 deaths the year before, when there were 381,000 registered vessels.
As summer is fast approaching, it’s important to follow safe boating practices. In cases in which more than one plaintiff is filing a claim against the same policy or estate, it’s imperative that each party be represented by an experienced injury lawyer.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Families of two men killed in boat crash suing estate of late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, Feb. 10, 2017, By Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel
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