The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) of 1920
Protecting the Families of Wrongful Death Victims at Sea
The DOHSA is an act passed in 1920 to protect maritime workers and their families by allowing them to seek financial compensation for a wrongful death accident occurring at sea. Recently, the DOHSA has branched out to include commercial airline crashes that fall at least 12 nautical miles from the U.S. waters border. Dock workers and other offshore employees who work within 3 miles of the shore are not covered by DOHSA—instead, they are covered by the Longshoreman & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. To learn more about that law, visit our page on it.
Before this act was passed, there was no tangible piece of legislature plaintiffs could use against shipping companies to seek retribution for the loss of their loved one.
Since its creation, workers, manufacturers, supervisors, and owners of airlines and shipping vessels are now held to a higher set of standards and regulations designed create a safe working environment. When theses standard are not met, and a family loses a loved one because of accident that could have been avoided, said families now have a piece of ground to stand on in fighting for the compensation they absolutely deserve.
The Dangers of Maritime Work
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the regulative organization in charge of setting standards of practice, gathering evidence from, and enforcing violations of rules pertaining to the safety of workplaces in every industry in the United States. In their findings, OSHA has concluded that maritime workers have double the likelihood of experiencing and injury or death in an accident than even the construction industry. This would make maritime work one of the most perilous types of work in our country today.
Employees on offshore sites or vessels face many life-threatening dangers, which include:
- The possibility of falling overboard
- Exposure to harmful fumes in enclosed spaces
- Chemical burns
- Powerful electrical shocks
- Explosions of machinery
- Piracy attacks
If the death of your loved was the result of or related to any of these kinds of accidents, or an accident unlisted here, it is important that you understand the DOHSA and how it can help you. Additionally, it is important to hire expert maritime legal counsel that can navigate this act and put it to use in at least partially providing recovery for your significant loss.
Although it has been a vastly helpful piece of legislature since its establishment in 1920, the DOHSA has notable restrictions. As mentioned, it will cover death in the event of a commercial airline crash, but only if the airline crash occurred 12 mile past the border of United States waters.
If your case qualifies, and it comes time for recovering financial compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one, DOHSA compensation only covers certain aspects of your loss. In many wrongful death suits, families can receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of future wages, and loss of companionship, but these losses are not covered under DOHSA.
The act only covers financial compensation immediately pertaining to the loss of your loved one and no other related expenses. However, there are other avenues through which to obtain compensation for those expenses and an expert legal team can navigate them for you.
Maritime Legal Representation
Arnold & Itkin LLP is a nationally renowned personal injury firm dedicated to bringing justice and order back to victims and families of victims who have suffered a tragedy that should have been avoided. Our experts will go to any length to provide you with the help you need.
If your loved one was wrongfully killed at sea in a commercial shipping or aviation accident off the coast of Louisiana, call us today at (225) 412-6348 to schedule your free consultation and begin your fight for compensation.