It is impossible to comprehend the trauma of losing a loved one in an offshore accident until you experience it for yourself. And that does not even take into account the financial ramifications, which include loss of wages, medical expenses and various other challenges. However, it may be possible to obtain financial compensation if you are able to prove that the loss of your loved one was the result of negligence and/or unseaworthiness. This is thanks to the Death on the High Seas Act, which is designed to help you obtain financial recompense for your loss.
So what exactly is the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)?
Originating back in 1920, the Death on the High Seas Act is designed to help the families of those who lost their lives in international waters, or who were the victims of wrongful death at sea. These days, its parameters have expanded to incorporate cases of air disasters such as plane crashes taking place 12 nautical miles (or more) outside U.S. waters. DOHSA is designed to incentivize employers to implement effective safety measures. Working at sea and harbor work are occupations fraught with risk, with laborers frequently expected to contend with environmental hazards. As such, their safety is in the hands of their employers.
Maritime and Offshore work: The dangers
According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the job of a shipyard employee is more than doubly dangerous than that of a construction worker. The high rate of workplace injuries and accidents places maritime employment as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. With that in mind, it is vital for all maritime and offshore employees to fully understand maritime law as it relates to their safety. Getting in touch with a top-rated accidental death attorney in Houston will help them to prepare for the worst-case scenario in which a (potentially fatal) accident occurs.
A DOHSA claim does not need to be made by the family of the deceased (such as the children, spouse and additional dependents)- it can be made by a representative commissioned to act on their behalf. However, DOHSA does restrict the amount of compensation available to the family. It only covers financial losses such as lost earnings and/or medical expenses. It does NOT cover mental anguish and other non-pecuniary damages.
What are the available damages for families of those who lose their lives at sea?
DOHSA does, however, cover damages in the following generalized categories:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the incident
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of income/financial support
- Loss of both care and household services
Bearing that in mind, it is important to be aware that maritime law is a highly complex and specialized field, so pursuing a wrongful death claim can be particularly challenging. That’s why it’s essential to have the right lawyer- one who is experienced in the area and knows what they are talking about.
Proving negligence in a DOHSA case
Legally establishing negligence in a DOHSA case can sometimes be a tricky business. This is because the negligence (or unseaworthiness of the vessel involved) occurs outside of US territory, and therefore it can require the co-operation and effective collaboration of overseas agencies to complete the necessary investigation to establish the negligence or the failed duty of care.
Finding the right Death on the High Seas lawyer in Texas
To maximize your chances of obtaining appropriate compensation, you will need to file your claim within three years of the death of your loved one. To find the right Death on the High Seas Act attorney in Houston, Texas, get in touch with The Stephens Law Firm for a consultation. We have a wealth of experience to help you recover the damages you deserve.