The Death on the High Seas Act: What it Means for Maritime Accidents


If you or someone you love was injured in a maritime accident, you must learn about the Death on the High Seas Act. This law dictates how such incidents are handled.

This law provides guidelines to protect shipping companies from wrongful injury suits. It also protects individuals from the law’s often byzantine paths through the legal system.

In this article, we will explore the Death on the High Seas Act in detail. We will explain how it works and how to navigate it should a maritime accident occur.

What is the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)?

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a federal statute that covers wrongful death incidents. This occurs in the open sea, three nautical miles or more away from the shoreline.


It is a system of protection against injury and death at sea for both individuals and seafaring entities. The DOHSA dictates that when people die on the high seas, their families are eligible for wrongful death damages.

This includes compensation for services that the deceased provided. For instance, it includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages. Symptoms of damages must occur no more than three years from the date of the accident.

Through the DOHSA, the victims of maritime accidents can have closure, knowing that those responsible will be held. Also, victims’ families will receive the utmost financial protection.

Maritime Accidents Governed by DOHSA

Death due to injury or illness resulting from a maritime accident is covered under DOHSA. This includes the death of a passenger while on a vessel at sea, during a cruise, or while a vessel is involved in a related activity.

Also, it includes wrongful acts or manslaughter connected with the operation of a vessel. It also includes crew members who died due to work-related illnesses or injuries while performing their duties.

Death caused by negligence on a vessel at sea is also covered under DOHSA. Deaths caused by faulty navigation or navigation that results in the sinking of the vessel and the death of a passenger will be covered by this law.

Eligibility Requirements Under the Act

To be eligible for a claim, the plaintiff must be the legal representative of the deceased party. The plaintiff must show evidence that a negligent or wrongful act, neglect, or default of the defendant caused a wrongful death.

The decedent must also have died at sea or within navigable waters. The wrongful death must have been caused by a ship or vessel. To bring a case, the plaintiff must also be the victim’s spouse, parent, or child or their legal representative.

The decedent’s surviving family must show that the death resulted in economic damages. Claimants must have suffered monetary damages due to the death to be eligible for compensation under DOHSA.

Protections for Families of Victims

The law protects families from suffering economic harm due to the death of their loved ones. DOHSA requires that the decedent’s employer compensate the surviving family members for any financial harm caused by the death.

This compensation includes funeral expenses, medical bills, and lost income due to the death. This acts also allows families to pursue compensation for the pain and suffering of their loved one, provided they prove their case.

The law prevents employers from shifting blame onto someone else. It prevents families who suffer the loss of a loved one in international waters from seeking redress elsewhere.

Settlements and Compensation

Damages are paid to survivors for the loss of a family member or economic loss. Claims may be filed through the Federal Court, and awards are based on several factors.

These include the type of injury or loss in question and the value of the life or the financial burden of the injury. The degree of fault on the part of the responsible party is also considered.

The amount of damages paid is also affected by the victim’s negligence. For example, any failure to properly operate or maintain the vessel or any other contributing negligence.

The damages are paid out from a fund established by the ship owner or carrier. It includes liability insurance and other contributions from the shipping employer, vessel owner, or operator.

Limitations of the Act

The Act does not apply to deaths that occur on lakes, rivers, or other waters that are not within the jurisdiction of the US. This law only applies to family members of the deceased, not to other passengers.

Also, it only allows claims to be made by certain family members of the deceased. The compensation available is rather limited and does not extend to non-family members.

The damages recoverable under DOHSA are limited to pecuniary losses only. The act does not allow for punitive damages or other nonpecuniary damages.

Strategies for Filing a Claim Under the Act

The process of filing a claim begins with the selection of a reputable firm. The firm should specialize in maritime law and be experienced in winning complex cases such as this one. For instance, you can also visit this website,

A verified and timely application must be made to the U.S. District Court. This must be done within three years of the victim’s death.

The claimant is required to supply evidence to the court. It must indicate that the death was caused by an act of negligence, wrongful act, or default of a vessel or its crew.

The claimant must prove that he or she is the appropriate party to receive compensation under U.S. succession laws. It also includes proof of who is the legal representative of the deceased.

A Guide to the Death on the High Seas Act for Maritime Accidents

The Death on the High Seas Act is an essential piece of maritime law in the United States. It provides proper and timely compensation for those involved in these accidents and seeks to ensure justice is served.

With this guide, mariners can understand their rights and responsibilities in tragic maritime accidents. If you or someone you know has had a maritime accident, seek legal advice and understand your rights.