Benefits under the Death on the High Seas Act

Frank S. Clowney III

Many people in the San Diego area work in the maritime industry. They would know that working on the high seas comes with its own share of risks that are unique to the industry. Like in other high-risk professions, maritime workers often have to deal with injuries for which they are unable to obtain fair compensation. To address this issue, there is a federal statute that sets guidelines for maritime liability in the event of a worker’s death while performing duties in the high seas.

The Death on the High Seas Act

Title 46 Chapter 303 of U.S. Code addresses this concern and is popularly known as the Death on the High Seas Act. According to this statute, the spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative of a worker injured or killed while performing duties onboard a vessel in the high seas beyond 3 nautical miles from shore of the United States is entitled to file a civil suit against party (individual or vessel) whose negligence led to the worker’s death.

Compensation under the act

According to this law, once the negligence or the person or the vessel has been established in court, the survivor is entitled to a fair compensation for the pecuniary losses that they suffered. In the event that there are multiple plaintiffs, the court determines the proportions in which the total compensation is divided among the plaintiffs, based on the extent of loss that each of the plaintiffs have suffered.

Contributory negligence

A noteworthy point is that in cases under this law, the contributory negligence of the deceased worker does not rule out the survivor’s right to compensation. That is, in cases where contributory negligence on part of the deceased worker is established, the court takes into consideration the degree of such negligence and makes adjustments to the overall compensation amount accordingly.