The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a federal statute codified in 46 U.S.C. §§ 30301–30308 and is one of many maritime laws that apply to offshore accidents. The law was enacted by Congress in 1920 to create a remedy for wrongful deaths occurring on the high seas and provide uniformity to maritime law in the United States. When DOHSA does apply, it preempts other claims, meaning it is the exclusive remedy for the surviving family members.
If your family member was killed in a maritime accident, you may be able to bring a DOHSA claim to seek compensation for the loss of your loved one. The Houston maritime accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have extensive experience handling DOHSA claims and have secured some of the largest maritime recoveries in Texas. Call us today at (281) 283-8500.
When Does DOHSA Apply?
Under DOHSA, a cause of action arises when an individual is killed beyond three nautical miles of the United States shoreline due to a wrongful act, negligence, or default. In the wake of the tragic TWA Flight 800 crash, Congress amended DOHSA in 2000 to include wrongful deaths resulting from commercial aviation accidents occurring more than 12 nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline.
In order to recover in DOHSA case, the claimant must establish that their loved one was killed because of the vessel owner, employer, or other responsible third party’s negligence, unseaworthiness (applicable to seaman only), or intentionally wrongful conduct. Contributory negligence does not bar recovery, but can reduce the amount of compensation awarded.
Who Can File a DOHSA Claim and What Damages are Recoverable?
Only certain beneficiaries are allowed to bring a cause of action under DOHSA. A personal representative of the decedent’s spouse, child, parent, or dependent relative may file a DOHSA claim against the party responsible for the wrongful death.
DOHSA claims are subject to a three-year statute of limitation so family members who have lost a loved one at sea should consult with an experienced maritime accident lawyer right away to preserve their rights.
With the exception of commercial aviation accidents, only pecuniary (i.e. economic) damages can be recovered under DOHSA. The pecuniary loss includes the following types of compensation:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pre-death medical expenses
- Any wages owed at the time of the person’s death
- Loss of care, support, maintenance, advice, and counsel
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of existing or expected financial contributions
- Loss of household services once provided by the decedent
Experienced Representation for Maritime Accident Cases
In the aftermath of such a tragic loss, you need compassionate, experienced, and knowledgeable legal counsel you can rely on. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our team of Houston maritime accident attorneys can explain which maritime laws apply to your case, help you understand what to expect from the legal process, and fight to obtain the compensation your family deserves.
We have successfully litigated a wide range of maritime accident cases and we always work to secure the best result possible for our clients. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to receive a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.