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How To Get Compensation for Wrongful Death at Sea

An unfortunate factor of maritime work is that death is a real possibility. And every year, many of those deaths related to maritime accidents were avoidable. Seamen, fisherman, and other maritime workers often work under unsafe conditions, on vessels that are not properly maintained, and without the proper safety equipment and training and it leads to many preventable fatalities. As a result, the loved ones of maritime workers have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim if the death occurred because of another party’s negligence. 

Knowing this, however, does not make the death any less unbearable and we understand that the grief of losing a loved one and the potential resulting financial difficulties can be overbearing. If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal maritime accident, no amount of money can make the loss easier, but it can help to ease the pressure on you. And with the help of an experienced maritime attorney, that pressure can be eased even more.

Our skilled attorneys can talk you through the best way to file your wrongful death claim and help you recover the benefits you and your family deserve for your loss. 

–Jon Montagna

Types of Wrongful Death Claims For Maritime Accidents

In maritime law, there are three acts that cover seamen in the case of wrongful death at sea. They are as follows.

Death on High Seas Act

The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA) is applicable in the case of a seaman killed in a maritime accident at least 3 miles or more away from the shore. Spouses, children, and other dependents are able to obtain pecuniary damages under this act. Pecuniary damages include:

  • If the victim was conscious before the death and therefore experienced physical trauma, the loved ones who file under a DOHSA claim may be eligible for pain and suffering compensation.
  • The children of the victim are entitled to damages for loss of education, nutrition, nurturing, and physical and moral training that they are deprived of due to the parent’s death.
  • The negligent party in a maritime accident is liable for damages incurred because of the death made payable to the victim’s relatives.

A Jones Act claim must be in place before DOHSA can be applied and damages for loss of companionship or emotional trauma are not covered. 

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

As long as specific requirements are met, qualifying relatives of the victim are eligible for benefits under the LHWCA. The claim must be filed within 30 days from the death or 30 days of the beneficiaries being made aware of the death. 

Under the LHWCA, the seaman must perform a large amount of work on the vessel but they aren’t required to have contributed to the work and function of the vessel, a factor that’s required under the Jones Act. 

The Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, spouses and dependents of seamen killed in a maritime accident at work have the legal right to collect damages against negligent employers. The victim had to have done substantial work contributing to the performance of the vessel. Recoverable damages under the Jones Act include:

  • Lost wages and future earnings: With the help of one of our maritime attorneys, you can calculate and recover the value of the victim’s financial contribution to your family. 
  • Support for dependent children: This includes not only financial support but also the value of lost guidance and care.
  • Medical expenses: This includes pre-death medical bills associated with the fatal maritime accident.
  • Pain and suffering: If the victim suffered from injuries that were not immediately fatal, the family can collect damages for his/her pain and suffering.
  • Funeral expenses: funerals can cost thousands of dollars. A wrongful death settlement or verdict can cover those expenses under the Jones Act. 

There are few things more painful than the loss of a loved one. If you are dealing with the death of a loved one as a result of a maritime accident, then the skilled maritime attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law can help. We will fight for your rights. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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