Death On The High Seas Act

Federal Maritime law governs deaths that occur on the high seas. The Death On The High Seas Act, 46 USC § 30302, provides remedies to the families and dependents of persons who die as result of negligence or unseaworthiness beyond 3 nautical miles from the shores of the United States. Maritime death actions are extremely complex, involving complex legal and factual questions.

Proving fault in vessel sinking cases is best handled by maritime attorneys with many years of experience in wrongful death claims (link to Maritime Wrongful Death Page). Early accident investigation of the cause of the death of a crewman or passenger aboard a vessel is key to successful handling of many claims. Call our firm at 866-974-9633 to get started.

In most cases, the Death On The High Seas Act (DOHSA) preempts the general maritime law and limits damages to pecuniary losses. Damages available under the Death On The High Seas Act include loss of financial support, loss of care nurture and guidance, loss of household services, predeath medical expenses, and burial and funeral costs. In some cases, compensation for predeath pain and suffering damages may be available.

How DOHSA Could Benefit Your Family

For injured seamen the Jones Act may supplement the Death On The High Seas Act and provide additional remedies. For accidents happening within state territorial waters the wrongful death action is governed by the General Maritime law which, in some cases, may be supplemented by State wrongful death remedies.

Only the personal representative of the decedent's estate can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries (spouse, parent, child or dependent relative). Presumptive death hearings may be required in some cases to establish the death of persons lost at sea. In many cases, the vessel owners will institute a Limitation of Liability action or proceeding, 46 USC § 30505 and 46 USC § 30506, against the family members of the deceased attempting to declare as a matter of law the vessel owners are not liable in damages for wrongful death. The maritime lawyers at Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC have successfully defeated many limitations of liability proceedings.

Trust In Our Experience

Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC is one of the nation's leading maritime personal injury law firms. From its offices located in Seattle, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska, the firm has handled more than 50 maritime wrongful death claims for families across the nation. Its two decades of experience gained through litigating fishing vessel sinking cases in Alaska and the Bering Sea is difficult for other lawyers to match. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC's reputation has been built upon handling maritime wrongful death claims. The firm has handled maritime tragedies involving the sinking of vessels and deaths of crewmen including:

  • Aleutian Enterprise Arctic Rose Galaxy
  • Amber Dawn Vestfjord Nesika
  • Freya Pacific Apollo Lin J
  • Pace Setter Oceanic Ocean Challenger
  • Le III Columbia

Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC understands the emotional and psychological trauma involved in losing a family member as a result maritime negligence or unseaworthiness. Contact us to learn about your rights to compensation under the Death On The High Seas Act and under maritime wrongful death law. There are no fees for an initial consultation to learn about your rights under maritime law.

Our Successes
$16,000,000 - Jury Verdict for Ferry Worker Injury Gangway Collapse
$4,200,000 - Wrongful Death Judgment for longshoreman killed by unsafe cargo container stow.
$4,000,000 - Jones Act Maritime Wrongful Death
$4,000,000 - Burn Injuries Fire and explosion in engine room of fishing vessel.
$3,500,000 - Brain Injury Tug boat deckhand injured by defect in barge’s crane.
VIEW MORE