Filing a Maritime Wrongful Death Claim On Behalf of a Loved One

maritime wrongful death

When a death occurs, especially when it was unexpected and preventable, it can be even more devastating to the deceased’s surviving family members. The maritime industry is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. Maritime workers often have to work in unsafe conditions, on unseaworthy vessels, and without adequate safety equipment, leading to serious, even fatal injuries.

Loved ones of maritime workers may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf if the death occurred due to another’s negligence. Our legal team discusses the claims that cover maritime workers in the event of a wrongful death. We are well-versed in maritime laws and are ready to review your situation and determine your eligibility in a free legal consultation.

Claims Under the Jones Act

According to the Jones Act, dependents of maritime workers and seamen who are fatally injured while working in U.S. waters may be able to take legal action and pursue compensation against a negligent employer. This could include the spouse, children, parents or siblings who depended on the deceased for financial support.

Wrongful death claims apply to those who have spent considerable time working on a vessel or contributing to work on a vessel. Only the seaman’s employer may be held legally liable for damages. To pursue compensation, you must prove that negligence caused or contributed to your loved one’s death. Wrongful death claims under the Jones Act must be brought within three years from the date of death.

Compensation could include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Medical expenses incurred by the deceased
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of care and guidance
  • Pain and suffering the deceased experienced

Claims Under the Death on High Seas Act

The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA) applies to maritime workers and seamen who are fatally injured at least three nautical miles away from shore. Spouses, children and other dependents of the deceased (parents, siblings, grandparents) may be eligible for damages. The DOHSA was passed to help fill the void of any federal remedy for death on the high seas.

This act allows family members to file wrongful death claims if their loved one dies beyond U.S. waters. It could also apply to deaths of workers or passengers on commercial airlines who die beyond the 12-mile international waters limit. However, it does not apply to workers killed on private vessels.

Like the Jones Act, you must be able to prove negligence or wrongdoing of another and have three years from the date of the wrongful death to file a claim or lawsuit.

Compensation under the DOSHA may include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical expenses incurred by the deceased
  • Costs for counseling related to the death
  • Lost wages, including pension and benefits
  • Loss of support and services
  • Loss of care and guidance

Even if a maritime worker caused or contributed to his or her death, compensation could still be sought, but would be reduced by his or her percentage of fault. Our West Palm Beach maritime lawyers are here to help you pursue the damages your loved one experienced before death.

Claims Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) helps protect injured longshoremen, dock workers, harbor workers, and other workers who are not seamen. When a worker dies in a maritime accident, death benefits could be claimed by the spouse, children and others dependent on the deceased worker (grandparents, siblings, and/or grandchildren).

Like the Jones Act, the maritime worker must have performed a large amount of work on a vessel on navigable waters. However, he or she is not required to contribute to the work and function of a vessel. Claims for death benefits must be filed within one year after the date of death and compensation could include medical expenses, pension benefits and burial expenses up to $3,000.

Dependents are also provided regular payments equal to the deceased’s average weekly wages. Death benefits under the LHWCA are broken down as follows:

  • 50 percent for widows or widowers unless they remarry
  • 50 percent for one child until he or she turns 18 or 23 years old if a full-time student
  • 66 and two-third percent for a widow or widower with one or more children
  • 66 and two-third percent for more than one child

Have Questions About Maritime Death Claims?

If you are unsure if you qualify, we recommend reaching out to an experienced lawyer at Gordon & Partners to learn more about your rights and potential legal options.

Our initial consultations are complimentary and our legal services are provided at no upfront cost to you. We do not get paid unless we help you secure compensation in a claim or lawsuit.

Speak with a lawyer today. Ph: 1 (855) 722-2552.

Gordon & Partners - For The Injured®


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Phone: 1-561-333-3333

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Boca Raton, FL 33487

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