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Some key Points About the Death on the High Seas Act

The personal injury laws pertaining to accidents on high waters can be quite complex. The worst forms of maritime recovery suits are those involving the passing of a loved one. For example, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is an avenue of legal compensation when a person dies as a result of a "wrongful act, neglect or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league (within three miles) from the shore of any state." A personal representative of the victim typically initiates this legal claim. The suit is brought on behalf of the victim's dependent relatives — usually his or her spouse or children


A DOHSA lawsuit recovers damages for dependants based on the vanished worth of the monetary assistance that would have been given to a family member, had the victim not passed. Therefore, a fatal victim's dependent children could potentially receive the worth of any childrearing expenses and assistance that they would have gained from the fatal victim in this type of lawsuit. Similarly, a surviving wife or husband might gain from a DOHSA suit the worth of the monetary contribution a spouse would have provided to his or her family unit had he or she lived through the accident. In such cases, a surviving spouse might also be entitled to the economic value of any home-related chores the deceased spouse would have regularly supplied throughout the rest of the marriage.

The calculation of damages for lost benefit is equal to the amount of estimated hours of service multiplied by an hourly rate for such services. A surviving dependant is limited to pecuniary damages under the Act. Specifically, one cannot recovery for loss of love and affection for fatalities on the high seas. Also, a person pursuing a claim must prove negligence or fault. It is important to recognize that only seamen retain valid claims under the Jones Act or claims for unseaworthiness. If the fatal victim on high seas was a crewperson injured as a result of negligence or unseaworthiness, a claim will be available for pain and suffering experienced by the crewperson prior to his or her death.

These are just a few legal principles under the DOHSA. Ultimately, Maritime law is complex and intricate. The applicability laws depend on the circumstances of the accident. If your loved one lost his or her life on high seas, it is helpful to talk to an experienced lawyer. A legal professional with experience in maritime law will understand the complexities of accidents on high waters. To learn more, speak with an attorney in your area.

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