WRONGFUL DEATH LAW AND MARITIME
The loss of a loved one is a devastating experience. It can have a huge emotional and financial impact on a family. In the wake of a death, there can be many questions left without answers. One of those questions may be who is responsible and if there might be any legal recourse for those involved. When a death occurs on or around the shore, several laws may come into play. In these instances, the sea vessel’s location is critical to the claim. An attorney knowledgeable in maritime law is essential to help a family determine their course of action and which laws may apply to their unique situation.
MARITIME DEATH WITHIN THREE MILES FROM THE U.S. SHORELINE
If a death occurs within 3 nautical miles of the shore, wrongful death laws may apply for either sea passengers or maritime workers. They will also apply to deaths inside U.S. territory waters. If the maritime worker’s death is deemed a result of the vessel owner or employer’s negligence and is within 3 miles of the U.S. shoreline, the Jones Act may also apply in these situations. This can be filed at the same time as a wrongful death claim.
MARITIME DEATH OUTSIDE THREE MILES FROM THE U.S. SHORELINE
Another law to consider is the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). This law applies to both passengers and employees on a vessel who perished in an accident that occurred more than 3 miles from the U.S. shoreline. The DOHSA alone can be very limiting. Under this federal law, the family members of the deceased may only be entitled to “pecuniary” damages. This means that only things that could be assigned a dollar value would be covered. Therefore, emotional damages and loss of companionship would not apply. Additionally, any lawsuit filed under the DOHSA must be brought within three years of the death.
Despite the limitations, a knowledgeable attorney will be able to determine if further claims could be made in each case. They will also be able to help determine whether to bring claims under maritime wrongful death laws or under the DOHSA.
WHEN THE LAW DOES NOT CONSIDER A WORKER A SEAMAN
What happens if your loved one didn’t work on a sea vessel but is employed in a related area? These may include crane operators, welders, cargo handlers, or those that work on the shore. In the case of a wrongful death of one of these types of employees, The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act may apply. The family of the deceased may be entitled to certain death benefits based on a portion of the victim’s earnings.
In the event of death, whether on sea or on the shore, it is of the utmost importance that the family of the deceased contact a qualified attorney. A maritime attorney is vital in helping the family decide the best course of action and which laws may apply to their case.
If you have a loved one or know someone who has a loved one who perished at sea or while working in a sea related occupation, contact one of our maritime lawyers at Madalon Law. We fight for the rights of the injured in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.