The U.S. has sets of laws to cover death at sea beyond the borders of territorial waters. In the 1920s, the limitations of the Jones Act were identified by the U.S. government and followed by the introduction of the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). In 2000, maritime law was updated to include plane crashes in DOHSA.
What is the Death on the High Seas Act?
The Death on the High Seas Act was introduced to provide financial support for the families of sailors. The maritime law covering DOHSA was created in response to the dangerous conditions faced by sailors facing dangerous working conditions. DOHSA was introduced to allow the families of sailors who died because of negligence to make financial claims against the employer.
What is the difference between DOHSA and the Jones Act?
The Jones Act was also introduced into U.S. maritime law in 1920 to provide support for injured maritime workers. The main difference between the Jones Act and DOHSA is that the former only covers employees of the company operating the ship. DOHSA provides support for the families of the workers and passengers onboard.
Who is covered by the Death on the High Seas Act?
There are several groups covered by the Death on the High Seas Act including passengers on a ship who die beyond the three-mile territorial border of the U.S., passengers of aircraft traveling twelve miles beyond the border of U.S. territorial waters, and offshore oil rig workers.
Understanding the Death on the High Seas Act is a good first step to take to determine if you can claim the loss of a loved one under maritime law.