How families seek justice after a wrongful death at sea

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2023 | Maritime Wrongful Death |

With so much recreation and enterprise occurring offshore in the San Diego area, the possibilities for injury are all but endless. Occasionally, what would have resulted in grounds for a personal injury lawsuit by someone who gets hurt offshore results in their death. Family members then have the possible option of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death is a fatality that occurs either because of the misconduct or negligence of a third party. Both businesses and individuals could potentially be named as defendants in wrongful death claims. What options do surviving family members have after a fatal maritime incident that occurs in the Pacific Ocean somewhere near San Diego?

An employment-related claim under the Jones Act

One of the most common reasons for people to end up dying in an offshore location is because of their employment. Workers who fish or dive professionally know that their careers come with some degree of risk, but they generally all expect to make it home to their families safely every day.

In scenarios where a worker’s death is the result of negligence or some kind of regulatory infraction on the part of the employer, a special law called The Jones Act may give the family the right to file a lawsuit. Standard workers’ compensation coverage does not apply if someone gets hurt in an offshore location. The Jones Act, which is part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, gives an injured worker or their surviving dependent family members the right to pursue a claim after an incident on the job.

A third-party civil lawsuit

If the person who dies in a maritime environment was not at work or died because of the actions of someone other than an employer, a traditional wrongful death lawsuit could be an option. Those who lose a loved one because of criminal incidents, defective products, drunk boating and other forms of misconduct or negligence may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible individual or business for the full financial impact of their family member’s death.

Evaluating opportunities for compensation when a family member dies prematurely may help survivors diminish the lasting financial impact of a tragic fatality.