Understanding the Death on the High Seas Act

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Maritime Wrongful Death |

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) was first passed in 1920. This federal law provides a legal remedy for the families of individuals who have died due to negligence or misconduct on the high seas.

The DOHSA was enacted in response to a growing need for legal protection for maritime workers who were often exposed to dangerous working conditions.

What rights does the DOHSA provide?

The DOHSA covers deaths that happen over three nautical miles from the U.S. coast. This means that it applies to deaths that occur on ships, airplanes and other vessels that are in international waters. It does not cover deaths that occur within the territorial waters of the United States, which are defined as the area extending 12 nautical miles from the coastline.

Under the DOHSA, the families of individuals who have died on the high seas can bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the death. This can include the owner of the vessel, the captain or any other individual who is responsible for the safety of the passengers or crew. The claim can include damages for loss of support, loss of services and other losses that the family has suffered because of the death.

Limits and exceptions

One of the key provisions of the DOHSA is that it limits the damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death claim. Specifically, the law limits damages to the economic losses suffered by the family because of the death. This means that non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are not recoverable under the DOHSA.

The Death on the High Seas Act is an important federal law that provides legal protection for the families of individuals who have died on the high seas. Knowing your legal rights under this law can help you protect them.