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Wrongful death suit filed against tour company

A New York family has filed a wrongful death claim against a tour company after their son was swept to sea while on a hiking tour in Hawaii on July 4. His body has not been found. Reportedly, the guide took the group of teens outside the state-permitted area despite warnings of dangerous surf for the area. The 15-year-old was last seen being swept across the tide pool where the group had been resting before proceeding out to the precarious lava rock area, and out over the shoreline cliffs.

In addition, the family has claimed that the tour leader did nothing to protect or help the boy. The lawsuit alleges that the guide had a criminal history, including drug possession. If these allegations are true and the guide was improperly hired by the tour company, there are likely to be more lawsuits -- both against the guide and the tour company. Parents assume that when their children are part of a group for teens they are with qualified guides, dedicated to the safety of the minors. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case here.

Wrongful death lawsuits can be difficult to pursue due to the amount of evidence needed to prove that there was negligence and that the death could have been prevented. The death of this boy is a great example of a case where eyewitness testimony will be key -- it will be their word against that of the guide and the tour company. As Maryland has a strong tourist industry (though, of course, not as notable as Hawaii's) this is an important case to keep an eye on.

If wrongful death and negligence are found in this case, it will open the door for families who have had injuries or lost loved ones while part of a tour group. We trust tour guides to be more knowledgeable about the areas than we are, and their judgment is what leads the group.

In a case like this, the family cannot regain their lost son, but may be able to make an example so that other families may receive justice and compensation.

Source: Associated Press, "Family of NY teen swept to sea off Hawaii file federal wrongful death, negligence lawsuit," Aug. 22, 2012

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The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit ranges from one to three years after the death in question, depending on the state in which the suit is filed. Thus, if you believe the death of someone you know occurred due to negligence or intent to harm, it is important that you contact a wrongful death attorney in your state immediately to determine your rights and learn about settlements and court awards.

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