There are many laws protecting the rights of seaman and other maritime workers who are injured or killed on the job and their families. The Death on the High Seas Act, or DOHSA, applies to the survivors of victims killed in vessel and aviation accidents that occurred on the high seas.
Passed by Congress in 1920, DOHSA allows the surviving family members of seamen who were killed by the negligent acts of an employer, ship owner or crew member while serving on a U.S. vessel sailing at least a marine league (three nautical miles) off the coast of the United States and its territories the right to seek compensation for their loss.
DOHSA claims may arise from deaths caused by:
- Capsized or sunken vessel
- Onboard fire or explosion
- Chemical exposure
- Airplane and helicopter crashes
- Defective equipment or mechanical error
- Improper training and safety procedures
DOHSA also applies to individuals killed in aircraft accidents on the high seas, such as offshore helicopter crashes, but does not cover workers killed on drilling rigs and platforms. (These workers are protected by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act).
Damages Covered under DOHSA
Only a decedent’s financially dependent relatives, such as a spouse, parent, child or dependent relative, are allowed to seek damages under DOHSA. In order to prevail in a DOHSA lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that negligence on the part of the ship’s owner, an employer or fellow crew member resulted in the wrongful death of their loved one.
Compensation that can be recovered in a DOHSA claim is limited to economic damages only. These damages can include:
- Loss of existing or expected financial support and contribution
- Loss of economic benefits
- Care of child
- Household expenses
- Funeral expenses
Unfortunately, DOHSA does not provide damages for loss of support, companionship, mental anguish or bereavement.
Our Houston DOHSA Attorneys Can Help You Seek Justice for Your Loved One
If you are the family member of a maritime worker killed at sea, our highly esteemed Houston DOHSA attorneys are here to discuss the details of your case and provide professional advice on how to move forward with your claim. The Houston-based Ammons Law Firm has been defending the rights of injured maritime workers and their families for more than 20 years. We know the devastating impact the death of a loved one can have on a family and are prepared to utilize all of our legal skills, experience and resources to obtain a favorable settlement for our clients.
Don’t delay seeking help. The statute of limitations for filing a DOHSA lawsuit is three years. Call us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation. We work on a contingency basis, which means there are no up-front costs to you, and we do not get paid until and unless we win your case.