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Louisiana Death On The High Seas Attorney

death on the high seas

Because working at sea is inherently dangerous, seamen and maritime workers are at a higher risk of fatal injuries than many land-based workers in the Gulf Region. Nonetheless, offshore employers have an obligation to provide employees with a safe working environment and can be held liable for wrongful death under the Death on the High Seas Act. If your family member has been killed at sea due to a wrongful act such as negligence or failure to act, an experienced admiralty and maritime lawyer can help you obtain monetary compensation.

Koch & Schmidt represents surviving family members of seamen and maritime workers who have been killed at sea throughout southern Louisiana and the Texas Gulf region. Well-versed in the provisions of the Death on the High Seas Act and the available remedies under the Jones Act, we are committed to holding negligent vessel owners accountable for wrongful deaths that occur at sea.

We profoundly understand that losing a loved one in a maritime accident is an overwhelming burden, especially when the tragic death could have been prevented. Our maritime lawyers can help to lift that burden by providing you with knowledge, compassion and powerful legal representation. When you consult Koch & Schmidt, you will have peace of mind, knowing that our maritime lawyers are in your corner.

What Is The Death On The High Seas Act?

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) of 1920 is designed to compensate the families of seamen, crew members, cruise ship employees, passengers and other individuals who have been killed while working or traveling in international waters at least three or more nautical miles offshore. This law only covers individuals who have died while working on commercial vessels, not privately owned or noncommercial ships.

The spouse, children, and others who qualify as dependents of the decedent such as siblings, parents, grandparents, or grandchildren, may be entitled to monetary compensation. A wrongful death claim under DOHSA must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, however. To have a valid DOHSA claim, it is necessary to prove that:

  1. The ship or vessel owner caused or contributed to your loved one’s death at sea by a wrongful act such as negligence, failure to act, inappropriate judgment
  2. The vessel was improperly maintained, not suitable to be at sea and otherwise unseaworthy Claims for aviation and commercial aircraft accidents occurring at least 12 nautical miles offshore are also covered under DOHSA. Survivors of individuals killed in a commercial airline accident may be entitled to both economic and noneconomic damages.

Recoverable Damages Under DOHSA

Under DOSHA, claimants may be awarded economic damages to cover the costs of the death of their family member, including:

  • Lost wages (including the seaman’s benefits and pension)
  • Lost and future financial support
  • Household services or maintenance the decedent provided by the decedent
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Counseling expenses related to the death

The law does not provide for non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, mental anguish), except for wrongful death claimants in qualifying aviation accidents. Such damages may be available under other federal laws, including the Jones Act.

DOHSA And Contributory Negligence

If the court determines that the deceased seaman or maritime worker caused or contributed to the accident in any way, surviving family members may still file a claim, however the amount of damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the decedent.

How Long Do I Have To File A Claim Under DOHSA?

A DOHSA claim must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. Given the complexities of investigating a death on the high seas, as well as the challenges in proving negligence and potential damages, it is crucial to contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible.

The Perils Of Maritime Work

Seamen and maritime workers on offshore sites or vessels face all types of risks, from falling overboard, to exposure to harmful fumes in enclosed places, to electrical shocks, fires and explosions. The most common grounds for DOHSA claims include:

  • Overturned or sunken vessel
  • Onboard fire or explosion
  • Defective equipment
  • Failure to follow safety procedures
  • Failure to provide appropriate medical care
  • Inadequate training of personnel

If your loved one’s death at sea was caused by these or other negligent acts, our maritime lawyers will make DOHSA work for you and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Gulf Of Mexico And Louisiana Death On The High Seas Act Lawyers

Losing a loved one to death on the high seas is traumatic. You may be devastated and not know where to turn. Remember, Koch & Schmidt is here to help. We have the skills and experience to hold negligent vessel owners accountable and will fight to help you find justice. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.