The Death on the High Seas Act is a set of maritime laws that provides compensation for family members of seamen killed in international waters.
Under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), survivors of a seaman, who is killed at least three miles off US waters due to negligence, may be eligible for compensation. However, there are certain restrictions. Only certain members of the family are eligible for compensation. These include the spouse of the seaman, children, and dependent relatives.
Additionally, for survivors to be eligible for compensation, the death must have occurred due to the negligence of the vessel owner, crewmembers or other parties. In 2000, the Death on the High Seas Act was amended to include deaths that occur as a result of plane crashes at least 12 nautical miles off the US coastline.
The Death on the High Seas Act provides mainly for financial or compensatory damages. Compensatory damages can include medical expenses that were incurred before the death, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of financial support. In some cases, survivors may also be eligible for emotional or non-compensatory damages. However, the Death on the High Seas Act does not allow for compensation for loss of affection, support, and companionship.
Spouses may also claim loss of household services provided by the seaman. These include the value of the services that the seaman would have provided had he lived, including help in raising the children, and help in running the household.
The international maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent families of seamen who have been killed in international waters and are eligible for compensation under DOHSA.