The fishing industry is huge in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, but it is not without its dangers. It is not unknown for a commercial fisherman to die at sea. If this happens, it is important to have a good understanding of the Death on the High Seas Act.
The Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act can be found in 46 USC 761-768. It is a federal law that covers fatalities at sea due to a vessel’s unseaworthiness outside of territorial waters. The Death on the High Seas Act allows a seaman’s family to recover pecuniary damages incurred due to the death.
Pecuniary damages are measurable in nature. For example, they could cover losses such as loss of economic support and services. A seaman’s children can also be compensated for loss of care, nurture and guidance. However, loss of love and affection are not pecuniary in nature and are not covered by the Death on the High Seas Act.
The Jones Act
The Death on the High Seas Act acts as a companion to the Jones Act. The Jones Act can cover damages caused by breaches of safety regulations. The Jones Act may also compensate for other damages not covered by the Death on the High Seas Act if the shipowner was negligent.
It is important to remember that in the absence of The Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act, general maritime law permits wrongful death lawsuits. This means that if a seaman dies on the job, there are three federal avenues of recovery. Ultimately, maritime law is complicated and if you lose a loved one at sea you will want to make sure that you explore all avenues of recovery so you can pursue all the compensation you are entitled to.