Attorneys for the maritime worker
since 1970

What’s your legal recourse if your loved one dies at sea?

Your son got married last month. He and his new bride decided to take a cruise to Alaska for their honeymoon. It was their dream vacation. But when the ship hit some unforeseen turbulence, it toppled onto some protruding rocks. Your son did not make it out alive.

In the wake of such devastation, you should know that you have legal recourse for your loss.

If your loved one died at sea, one statute you should become familiar with is the Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA). This legislation—which was enacted nearly a century ago—pertains to any maritime accident in the U.S. resulting in the death of one or more individuals.

In order to be eligible to file a DOHSA claim:

  • You must be a spouse, parent, child, dependent relative or personal representative of the deceased person.
  • The death must have been caused by a wrongful or negligent act.
  • The accident must have occurred at least three miles (that is, one marine league) from shore, in U.S. territorial waters.

Under the DOHSA, the surviving family of the deceased can receive restitution for:

  • Loss of compensation by the deceased
  • Loss of child care and guidance by the deceased
  • Loss of domestic services that would have been provided by the deceased
  • Other pecuniary—financial—losses

The DOHSA is just one of the potential remedies available to a victim’s loved one for a maritime tragedy resulting in death. An attorney experienced in maritime law can help you understand which laws are applicable to your case.