Wrongful Death

If you’re the personal representative, surviving spouse, parent, or dependent relative of someone who has died at sea or near the water, you might consider a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages for your loved one’s fatal accident.

General Maritime Law applies to wrongful death claims of both maritime and non-maritime workers (i.e., cruise passengers, crew members and certain oil field workers) whose death results within 3 nautical miles from shore or within state territorial waters.

There are two general circumstances where the general maritime law wrongful death claim applies:

A personal representative’s claim on behalf of a crewmember, if the death occurred outside the territorial waters of the United States. In this claim you may bring a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act, which does not allow for recovery from the employer of non pecuniary damages, such as loss of society, companionship, or consortium;

  • A representative’s claim on behalf of passengers or other persons aboard a ship or aircraft whose death occurred within state territorial waters. If the wrongful death claim can establish an allegation of unseaworthiness against the vessel owner (as opposed to the employer), then damages may include such factors as loss of society or consortium. These considerations can make a major difference in the overall value of your recovery.

Even a freshwater jet ski or boat fatality can often be handled under federal maritime law, but it’s always advisable to analyze all of the competing factors to determine whether it’s better to invoke federal maritime law, or to proceed under state wrongful death statutes. Whatever the circumstances of your claim, you can rely on us to pursue and locate the necessary evidence, wherever in the world it might be found.

As with many admiralty and maritime claims, the law governing the available damages  is extremely complex thus, requiring your retention of experts in the field of admiralty and maritime law.

For specific advice on your case contact us now.