What Is the Death on the High Seas Act?

Congress enacted the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) in 1920 to allow families of persons killed more than three nautical miles from a U.S. shoreline to seek compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death if it resulted from negligence or unseaworthiness. Unfortunately this law is rather cold, limiting most claimants’ recovery to loss of support, or the financial contributions the decedent would have made had he or she not died.

Generally, loss of support is determined by calculating what the decedent’s future income would have been and then subtracting from that what the decedent would have used to care for himself or herself — these calculations are rarely simple. Without the assistance of an experienced maritime attorney who knows how to maximize DOHSA damages, a decedent’s family may not receive adequate compensation for the loss of their loved one.

Several factors affect the amount of compensation available to family members, including:

  • The decedent’s age
  • The decedent’s employment status at the time of his or her death
  • Where the death occurred
  • The manner in which the death occurred
  • To what extent the ship owner was negligent
  • Whether the vessel was unseaworthy

An attorney who specializes in maritime litigation understands the complexities and limitations of DOHSA and other admiralty laws and can help families seek the maximum amount of compensation available to them.

Did your spouse, parent or other relative who provided support to you suffer a wrongful death at sea? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today to learn about your legal rights . . . before it’s too late to file a claim.

Latti & Anderson LLP –Boston maritime trial lawyers