Death On The High Seas Act
The unfortunately named “Death on the High Seas Act” (DOHSA) seems to refer to a time when pirates roamed the waters around the United States and Europe, but in fact is a federal act that offers an opportunity for family members to recover damages after the loss of a loved one. The DOHSA was enacted by the United States Congress in 1920 as a method of recovery for the family of a seaman killed in international waters caused by “negligence or unseaworthiness.” This initial wording has since expanded to further cover airline crashes which occur “beyond the 12-nautical miles territorial limit of United States waters.” If you have experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one, you are undoubtedly going through the hardest time of your life. However, it is important to bring an action under DOHSA as soon as possible to ensure you are able to recover for the loss of your loved one.
The Death on the High Seas Act
During the early years of the twentieth century, men often went to work on ships as a way to support their families. If an injury occurred on the ship which resulted in their death, the family was often left with limited means of recovery. Prior to 1920, there was not a ready method for family members to recover damages for wrongful deaths which occurred on the high seas. State courts occasionally offered recovery under state laws, but there was no real method for recovery when these injuries occurred out of state jurisdiction. The Death on the High Seas Act of 1920 (“DOHSA”) permitted families of victims to receive the compensation they deserved for the loss of their loved one.
Since this time, federal courts have expanded the initial scope of the Act and interpreted the Congressional intent of the Act. Commercial aviation accidents also now fall within DOHSA after a Congressional amendment in 2000 which allowed DOHSA to be retroactive to commercial aviation crashes which occurred on or after July 16, 1996, allowing the families of victims of TWA Flight 800 to recover damages.
Damages Claims under the Death on the High Seas Act
Families are typically only able to receive financial damages for the loss of their loved one, including burial expenses, future earnings, and even the financial impact of the decedent’s loss of services to the family (including items such as house repair). Unfortunately, the recovery options under DOHSA only extend to financial injuries, but an experienced maritime law attorney can work with your family to help determine the financial impact of the loss of your family member to ensure you are compensated for the traumatic loss.
Malley Law Firm | Houston Maritime Lawyer
If you have experienced the loss of a family member through an unfortunate accident that occurred on a ship or in a commercial airline crash in the high seas, do not hesitate to contact experienced maritime law attorney Tony Malley. Tony Malley has worked with many clients in determining the recovery amounts they are entitled to as the result of another’s negligence which resulted in the loss of their loved one. You should not be forced to not only carry the heavy burden of loss as well as the financial burden which comes with the loss. Contact our Texas offices today for your initial free consultation.