Why the BP Oil Spill Thrust DOHSA into the Spotlight

The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred more than three nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline, making the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) applicable to wrongful death claims filed by family members of the 11 rig workers who died in this tragic offshore accident. Sadly, because this maritime law is outdated, it can drastically limit the amount of damages that grieving families are able to recover.

Gordon Jones left behind a pregnant wife and child when he died suddenly and unexpectedly in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Because DOHSA typically limits damages to loss of support, his widow would have faced an uphill battle if she sought compensation for her grief and loss of companionship or for her children’s loss of their father’s love.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5503 on July 1, 2010, a bill seeking to amend DOHSA to allow the spouses and children of workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon incident to receive compensation for their mental anguish, grief and suffering. Unfortunately, the bill never reached a Senate vote.

Families of those who die more than three nautical miles from a U.S. shoreline deserve fair and just compensation for their loss. An experienced maritime attorney not only helps these families obtain the maximum amount of damages available to them under DOHSA, but also files claims under any other applicable maritime laws. Pursuing a claim for wrongful death at sea is different than pursuing a claim for wrongful death on land, making it important to work with an attorney who specializes in maritime law.

Do you have a maritime wrongful death case? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today to learn about your legal rights.

Latti & Anderson LLP –Boston maritime trial lawyers