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What Is The Death On The High Seas Act?

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a federal statute that was originally enacted in 1920 as a supplement to traditional maritime damages law. The Act’s intent was to allow a seaman’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit when that seaman is the victim of a fatal accident in international waters. Over time, this law has expanded to protect the families of airline accident victims who were lost in international waters as well.

If you have lost a loved one in an airline accident that occurred in the waters outside of the U.S. coastline, you may be eligible for some help through DOHSA. At Angelley PC, I work personally with family members of airline accident victims across the country, and will dedicate my full time and attention to getting you the relief you deserve.

Commercial Airline Accidents And DOHSA

While DOHSA was originally intended to support the widows of seamen killed in international waters in recovering their husband’s lost future earnings, the Act has been amended and expanded over the years. Today it applies not only to maritime claims, but also to commercial airline crashes that occur beyond 12 nautical miles from the shores of the United States. In other words, DOHSA will apply if a commercial flight crashes, for example, 50 miles from U.S. shores, but if the crash occurs only five miles out, then U.S. federal and/or state law will likely govern.

The damages currently available under DOHSA for airline crash cases are not as generous as most state’s damages laws, but they are certainly better than the damages available under the earlier versions of the Act. Today, in addition to the financial losses arising from the death of a commercial airline passenger, the victim’s family can also recover certain noneconomic damages, such as loss of care, comfort and companionship. The DOHSA does not, however, allow recovery for pre-death pain and suffering and it does not allow the recovery of punitive damages.

Trusted Support When You And Your Family Need It Most

When you lose a loved one in an airline accident, you should not have to worry about the details of the law. My firm offers extensive support and has successfully handled numerous cases involving the Death on the High Seas Act. During a free initial consultation, we can sit down and discuss your unique case and determine the best path forward to getting you back on your feet. I am here to help. Call my office at 214-254-3075 to get started.