Death On The High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act is a federal statute that offers relief to surviving family members whose loved one dies off shore. DOHSA is different in many ways from the wrongful death laws in Texas and other states. A DOHSA claim also differs from Jones Act and general maritime law claims. It is important to work with a lawyer who understands those differences and the law’s many other nuances.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., our experienced offshore injury lawyers have handled wrongful death claims arising in Texas and at sea for many decades. We believe that you deserve to work with a legal team that will give you confidence and peace of mind and pay close attention to your needs. Contact us today to learn more about DOHSA claims and the many ways in which we can help you to seek justice and compensation following a loved one’s death at sea.
Who Can Bring a DOHSA Claim?
State personal injury and wrongful death laws generally apply to injuries or deaths that occur within the state’s borders. The Jones Act and DOHSA both apply to injuries that occur on the water. When DOHSA applies, it preempts other claims. In other words, it provides the exclusive remedy for surviving family members.
You may be eligible to bring a DOHSA claim if your loved one dies three nautical miles or beyond the U.S. shoreline due to the negligent or wrongful act of another. The law also applies to wrongful deaths that occur in commercial aviation accidents more than 12 nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline.
Only the personal representative of the victim’s estate can formally bring a DOHSA claim. This means that a probate court must appoint the person to serve as the estate’s representative. Typically, the personal representative will be the same person who has been named to serve as the estate’s executor such as a spouse, adult child or sibling.
The personal representative may be a beneficiary, or a person who is legally eligible to recover compensation though a DOHSA claim. Other potential beneficiaries include:
- The victim’s spouse
- The victim’s children
- The parents of the victim
- Any other relative who was dependent on the victim for support.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we can help you to go through the process of being named the personal representative of your loved one’s estate. We can also provide representation and protect your rights if you are simply a beneficiary under a DOHSA claim.
How Do You Establish Liability Under the Death on the High Seas Act?
You must establish liability to recover compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act. You must prove that your loved one died due to the negligence or intentionally wrongful conduct of a:
- Vessel owner
- Other responsible third party.
To establish liability under DOHSA, your lawyer must have strong knowledge of the unique factual issues that arise when deaths occur at sea or in aviation. The lawyer should also be able to tap the knowledge of experts within those fields.
Factors which often lead to DOHSA claims are:
- Failure to follow safety protocol
- Failure to respond to emergencies properly
- Improper hiring, training and supervision of employees
- Fires or explosions on the vessel
- Overturned vessels.
Your lawyer should also be prepared to challenge efforts to place undue blame on the deceased victim. Under DOHSA, a court can reduce the amount of damages recovered by family members in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to the victim.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we have the experience and resources to handle any offshore investigation. Our knowledge of the law along with our experience in maritime injury cases makes us uniquely qualified to handle DOHSA claims. We can determine how the law applies to your case and help you to pursue all compensation which you deserve.
What Compensation Is Available Under DOHSA?
If you establish a claim under DOHSA, you should be eligible to recover damages that include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical expenses incurred by your loved one prior to death
- Any wages owed to your loved one at the time of death
- Loss of care, support, counsel, advice and maintenance
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of existing or expected financial support
- Loss of your loved one’s household services.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we will carefully gather and review all important information about your potential damages. Our goal will be to ensure that you and your family are justly compensated and enjoy peace and security as you move forward after the traffic loss of your loved one.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a DOHSA Claim?
Like many other types of cases, a statute of limitations applies to claims brought under the Death on the High Seas Act. Generally, the personal representative of the victim’s estate must bright a DOHSA lawsuit within three years from the date of their loved one’s death. If you fail to bring a claim within that time period, you will lose the right to recover compensation under this law.
A DOHSA claim takes time to investigate. An attorney also will need time to prepare a case for filing. For this reason, you should not delay getting help from an experienced offshore injury attorney at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C.
Contact a Houston Death on the High Seas Act Lawyer Today
If your family is grieving the loss of a loved one at sea or in an offshore aviation accident, and you aren’t sure what to do next, turn to Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. We are a family-owned law firm with decades of skillful service to the people of Houston and surrounding areas. Our firm can handle even the most complex offshore injury cases. All of our consultations are free. We will get paid for our time only if we help you to recover compensation. Let us help you and your family today. Call or reach us online today.