The Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”) is one of several potentially relevant sources of law for maritime wrongful death claims. DOHSA requires a vessel owner to compensate widows, children and possibly other financial dependents relatives after the death a worker who dies as sea, where the death was “caused by wrongful act, neglect or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league (3 miles) from the shore of any state.”
To qualify for compensation under DOHSA, a claimant need only be a dependent of the deceased mariner. This may afford compensation to family members, including a spouse, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, or grandchildren.
To succeed on a DOHSA claim, a dependent must prove that a vessel owner was negligent or committed a wrongful act that contributed to the death of the mariner. The vessel may also be found unseaworthy.
DOHSA calls for a qualifying claimant to be apportioned recovery according to the extent of the loss. Damages may include:
Lost current and future financial support for dependents
Lost wages owed to dependents (including spouses)
The cost of household services provided by the deceased (e.g. lawncare or home maintenance)
DOHSA does not provide for recovery of damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering, or grief. However, these damages may be available through separate claims under the Jones Act or general maritime law.
If your loved one was killed or lost at sea, Mariner Law, PLLC is here to help. Please call (253) 600-2531 for a free consultation with a knowledgeable maritime lawyer. There’s no obligation. The firm proudly serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.