Q: My son died while he was working at sea. Can I recover damages?
Receiving news that your loved one has passed away at sea is a devastating experience, particularly when it's your son or daughter.
When an accident victim dies while working for a maritime employer, the victim’s family may be entitled to compensation. These benefits are provided under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) and the Jones Act.
The Death on the High Seas Act
The DOHSA permits the parent of a deceased seaman to sue a vessel owner to recover:
- Lost household services. The value of any routine household work previously performed by the deceased, such as cleaning, cooking, and running errands, may be recovered through a DOHSA claim.
- Lost inheritance. Had the deceased continued to live for an average lifespan, it's reasonable to assume that the value of the estate would have continued to grow over time. The DOHSA claim can include this increase in value.
- Lost income. The deceased’s family is entitled to recover the income that would have been earned between the date of the accident and the deceased’s projected retirement date.
- Funeral expenses. If family members have paid for the funeral, this expense can be recovered through the DOHSA claim.
The Jones Act
If a spouse or children survive the deceased, they'll be given priority when it comes to filing a Jones Act claim. However, if the deceased was unmarried with no children, his parents are entitled to pursue additional benefits under the Jones Act, including:
- Pain and suffering. Damages for a deceased seaman’s pain and suffering may be recovered through a Jones Act claim.
- Medical expenses. Any medical costs sustained prior to the seaman’s death are compensable through a Jones Act claim.
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve lost a child at sea, an experienced maritime injury attorney can help you receive compensation through the Death on the High Seas Act and the Jones Act. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.