Maritime Death Lawyers with Offices in Houston, Dallas & Baton Rouge
An admiralty law known as the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) was established in 1920 to allow the families of sailors murdered in international waters or in cases of wrongful death to seek compensation. The DOHSA has now been expanded to cover situations when an airplane tragedy on the high seas occurred more than 12 nautical miles from the border of US territorial waters. To ensure that businesses take the necessary precautions for a safe workplace, the DOHSA was established. Every day, seamen and harbor employees must do dangerous activities; their lives depend on their employers’ capacity to establish a secure workplace.
Hazards of Maritime Work
The rate of injuries for shipyard labor is more than twice that of the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is one of the riskiest professions due to the high injury rate.
Employees on offshore sites face dangers including:
- Falling Overboard
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Injuries in Enclosed Spaces
- Chemical Burns
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Fishing Injuries
- Docks and Piers
- Broken Bones and Extremities Injury
- Negligence and Maritime Accidents
Workers at shipyards need to be aware of their legal rights in light of such risks. It is crucial that you comprehend the DOHSA and how it can assist you if the death of a loved one was caused by or related to any of these types of accidents or an accident not included here. Also, in order to understand this act and make the most of it to at least partially recover your large loss, you must retain experienced marine legal counsel.
The Difference Between DOHSA & the Jones Act
The primary distinction between the Jones Act and the DOHSA is the former’s emphasis on occupational need. The Jones Act protects mariners who operate at sea. For their employment to be covered, these employees must be helping to operate the vessel. On a cruise liner, the crew members are protected by the Jones Act in the event of a wrongful death. Yet, because they are not employees, the ship’s residents are not protected.
Passengers on a ship who perish beyond of the US’s three-mile territorial coast are covered by the DOHSA. Families of passengers who are not employed by the vessel are qualified for DOHSA benefits in the case of a high seas death once the vessel has traveled the three-mile coastline. The DOHSA will cover guests on a cruise ship who are using the ship’s services in the event of wrongful death.
The DOHSA has major limitations, despite being a very useful piece of legislation since its creation in 1920. As stated, it will cover fatalities in the case of a commercial airline crash, but only if the crash happened 12 miles or more from the edge of US territorial waters. When it comes time to obtain cash compensation if your case is eligible, DOHSA only pays a portion of your loss. Families can recover compensation for their pain and suffering, lost future earnings, and loss of companionship in other wrongful death lawsuits, but DOHSA does not cover these losses. Only immediate cash recompense for the loss of your loved one is covered by the act; no additional expenses are covered. There are, though, additional ways to get paid back for those costs. A knowledgeable legal team can guide you through them.
Death on the High Seas Act FAQ
CAN I FILE A LAWSUIT IF A LOVED ONE DIED WORKING OFFSHORE?
In addition to being physically taxing, working on an oil platform has a significant number of risks. Many fatal offshore accidents could have been avoided, but time and money-saving measures frequently come before safety. You may make a claim under the DOHSA if your loved one died as a result of someone else’s carelessness. Compensation is strictly limited to monetary losses and is only intended for the benefit of the deceased worker’s spouse, parent, child, or other dependant relative. Moreover, benefits are available under the Jones Act, which offers wrongful death damages to the family of a seaman who dies as a result of the negligence of his employer.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A CASE UNDER THE DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS ACT?
The Death on the High Seas Act, in general, covers maritime fatalities that take place at least three miles offshore. If shipowner carelessness or an unseaworthy vessel caused your loved one’s death, whether they were a passenger or a marine worker, you might have a strong DOHSA case. For a free first consultation to discuss your situation and how we can assist, contact Arnold & Itkin now. We are confident in our abilities to appropriately appraise the case and direct you in the right direction because of our significant knowledge in maritime law.
WHO CAN FILE A CLAIM UNDER THE DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS ACT?
You can have a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act if you are the partner, child, or dependent of a marine worker or passenger of a vessel who perished in international waters. Unfortunate deaths brought on by shipowner carelessness or an unsafe vessel are covered by DOHSA cases. They give family members the option to seek monetary damages from the negligent party for lost wages and other losses. DOHSA cases may also involve incidents involving aircraft mishaps in waters beyond 12 miles of U.S. territorial airspace.
HOW DO I PROVE NEGLIGENCE IN A DOHSA CASE?
Only fatalities brought on by negligent or unseaworthy vessels are covered by the DOHSA. It can be challenging to demonstrate negligence, especially given that the incident happened in international waters. Finding evidence to support negligence—a failure to act with the appropriate care or caution under the circumstances—requires a thorough investigation.
Examples of negligence under the Death on the High Seas Act may include:
- Not enough lifeboats for passengers and crew
- Inadequate safety inspections
- Failure to replace aging equipment
- Failure to provide proper equipment
- Unsafe conditions on the vessel
A vessel may become unseaworthy if any of its equipment is improperly maintained, not designed properly, or does not function as intended. In this case, the surviving family of a deceased passenger or seaman may be entitled to compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act.