Sacramento personal injury attorney John M. O'Brien talks about the rights of family members if the unthinkable happens and death occurs while navigating the “high seas.” For some reason, passengers killed under similar circumstances have a distinct and much more limited remedy if the accident happened on a cruise ship than if it happened on an airplane.
Fatal victims of boat accidents that take place more than three miles outside the territorial waters of the United States, who want to pursue a claim in the U. S., have an exclusive remedy under the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”), 46 U.S.C. section 30302, et seq.
DOHSA, which was passed by Congress in 1920, applies to passengers aboard ships or planes and allows family members to recover damages for fatal accidents caused by negligence or other wrongdoing at sea. However, DOHSA only permits recovery for economic losses, like funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and financial support.
However, the true measure of loss when someone you love is taken away is non-economic, like the loss of love, companionship, and affection. These losses are not recognized by DOHSA and are simply not recoverable.
"The life of a child, retired, or not the primary wage earner has little or no value under DOHSA," said John M. O'Brien, founder of John M. O'Brien and Associates. "The families of these victims, in addition to the grief and mental anguish, face financial burdens as well."
"Even though most state wrongful death laws have evolved since 1920 and permit the recovery of non-economic damages, DOHSA remains antiquated and out of touch with modern tort law," O'Brien said.
In 1997, Congress took action to allow the recovery of the loss of “care, comfort, and companionship,” in commercial aviation accidents occurring on the high seas.
"But the amendment still applies only to family members of plane accident victims," O'Brien said. "Recovery for victims aboard a ship or any other vessel at sea other than a plane remains limited. So, take care the next time you choose a dream vacation aboard a luxury cruise ship."
For more information, visit: https://www.jobrienlaw.com/