The most tragic possibility when a loved one heads off to sea is that they may not return. It is especially painful when you find out that the maritime employer exhibited negligence, which caused the wrongful death of your fisherman, tugboater, longshoreman, or other maritime-employed loved one. The employer or vessel owner should be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
If your loved one died due to mistakes or negligence on the part of their employer or the vessel owner, your loved one deserves justice, and you deserve to be compensated for your loss. A maritime death can be a complicated matter, requiring a careful investigation and an in-depth understanding of the law. You should act as soon as possible and learn about your legal options.
Wrongful death claims allow the family of a person who has died to recover damages. There are four bodies of maritime law that address wrongful death claims: general maritime law, the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), and the Death on the High Seas Act.
Maritime Wrongful Death Lawyers in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska
If you’ve lost a loved one at sea, the maritime wrongful death attorneys at BoatLaw, LLP can help you recover for your losses and fight for the justice you and your loved one deserve. We will do our best to ensure that you are compensated to the fullest extent of the law. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message to set up a free consultation. Our offices are located in Portland, Oregon; Bellingham and Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco, California.
Maritime Wrongful Death Information Center
- Death on the High Seas Act Offers Recovery for Seaman’s Families
- Other Remedies for a Sailors’ Wrongful Death
Death on the High Seas Act Offers Recovery for Seaman’s Families
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) was passed by Congress and signed by the President in 1920. According to 46 U.S.C. § 30302, DOHSA covers the death of a vessel’s crewmember or passenger in international waters as long as:
- the ship or vessel was more than three nautical miles from the shore of the United States; and
- the death was caused by negligence, unseaworthiness, or some other wrongful action or omission.
Negligence means the shipowner failed to provide a duty of care owed to the seaman or passenger—they did not act as a reasonably prudent person would have. Unseaworthiness means that the ship was not fit for the purpose for which it was made, or that the crew hired was not sufficient, either in inability or number, to properly operate the vessel.
DOHSA covers pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages include loss of support, loss of services performed in the house, funeral costs (if paid by the family members), and other economic losses. Non-pecuniary damages, like loss of consortium and pre-death pain and suffering, are not available under DOHSA. Only the spouse, children, or dependents of the deceased may make a claim under the DOHSA, and the claim must be brought against the ship’s owner. As a result of DOHSA being extremely limited and not offering recovery for non-pecuniary compensation, it is important to have an experienced attorney that can carefully evaluate every potential wrongful death claim remedy.
Other Remedies for a Sailors’ Wrongful Death
If the death of your loved one is not covered by DOHSA, there are other legal paths to pursue compensation. Your experienced maritime injury lawyer can help you determine the best course of action.
If your loved one was in territorial waters within three miles of U.S. shores and DOHSA does not apply, you may still have a claim under the Jones Act. The Jones Act, passed in 1920, covers claims of negligence causing injury to seamen, including wrongful death. Much like DOHSA, you can recover for financial losses under the Jones Act, but likely not for the loss of consortium or other nontangible damages.
If your loved one was within three miles of the shore, general maritime law also applies to wrongful death. Under a general maritime law wrongful death claim, you may be able to recover for nonpecuniary damages, such as loss of consortium.
If your loved one was a stevedore, longshoreman, ship repair worker, welder, crane operator, or another land-based maritime employee, you may also be able to seek compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA permits negligence actions against vessels pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 905(b).
Attorneys for Wrongful Death Claims Serving the Pacific Northwest
Your loved one deserves justice. The maritime employer or vessel owner responsible for the negligence that caused your loved one’s death should be held accountable, and you need compensation to cover the expenses involved in such a tragic event. At BoatLaw, LLP, our experienced offshore wrongful death Seattle attorneys can help you find that justice. The maritime attorneys at BoatLaw, LLP represent seamen and their families in personal injury and wrongful death cases for maintenance and cure, breach of warranty of seaworthiness, and claims under the Jones Act.
Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message for a free consultation with the Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, and San Francisco maritime injury attorneys of BoatLaw, LLP.