Damages in Jones Act / DOHSA Cases
Maritime workers and their families may be confused by the different maritime laws that might apply in their injury or wrongful death case. General maritime law covers many accidents and injuries on navigable waters. However, specific federal laws apply to maritime workers and their surviving family members.
Keep reading to learn more about the damages available in Jones Act and DOSHA cases. If you have questions about a maritime injury case, call our office to speak with a maritime injury attorney.
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Damages Available for a Jones Act Case
Seamen are entitled to sue their employers for damages related to injuries they suffer on vessels in navigable waters. The Jones Act covers all water-going vessels and requires owners to maintain the vessels in seaworthy condition.
Unlike traditional workers’ compensation claims, injured seamen must prove negligence to recover compensation for injuries and damages. Provided the injured workers proves negligence, a Jones Act claim can result in damages for:
Maintenance covers lost wages, room, and board from when the worker leaves the ship until he returns to work or reaches maximum medical improvement. Maintenance benefits generally pay for the injured worker’s housing, food, utilities, transportation, and basic living costs in most cases.
These benefits cover reasonable medical expenses related to your injury. Benefits may include all forms of medical care and treatment, provided the medical treatment is necessary and reasonable.
This type of damage applies when a vessel is shown to be unseaworthy. This type of benefit covers diminished earning capacity, pain & suffering, and mental anguish. It is paid when the employer fails to provide a reasonably safe workplace, and the seaman sustains an injury.
Wrongful Death Benefits Under the Jones Act
In addition to compensating an injured seaman, surviving family members may file wrongful death claims under the Jones Act. A wrongful death claim under the Jones Act may compensate family members for:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Injury claims under the Jones Act must be filed within three years of the date of injury. The statute of limitations could be extended in cases involving occupational illnesses. Still, it is best to seek legal advice immediately to avoid losing your right to file an injury claim.
Damages Paid for the Death of a Seaman Under DOSHA
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA) applies to seamen who die aboard a vessel within three nautical miles from the shores of the United States or its territories. A wrongful act or negligent act or omission must have led to the seaman’s death.
According to DOSHA, the personal representative for the deceased seaman may file a lawsuit seeking damages for the surviving spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative. In addition, a DOSHA lawsuit may be filed in federal or state court.
The damages available for a DOSHA claim are restricted to pecuniary losses. Pecuniary losses are damages that can be defined in monetary terms. Therefore, DOSHA benefits do not include compensation for loss of consortium, love, affection, companionship, or mental anguish.
Losses are limited to the financial damages of the surviving family members, such as loss of earnings, funeral expenses, and counseling expenses.
The statute of limitations for DOSHA claims is three years from the date of death or injury. The deadline applies to cases filed in federal or state court. However, the deadline is just two years if the United States is a defendant in the case.
Why Do Maritime Wrongful Death Claims Occur?
Working on the high seas and other navigable waterways can be dangerous. Maritime workers face extremely dangerous situations each day. Unfortunately, these dangerous conditions can result in catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths.
Examples of reasons why maritime accidents occur include:
- Fires and explosions onboard the vessel
- Dangerous weather conditions and rough seas
- Mechanical issues, malfunctions, and defective equipment
- Chemical exposure and exposure to toxic substances
- Failing to maintain a seaworthy vessel
- Safety hazards and failure to follow safety standards
- Negligence of the vessel owner, operator, or co-workers
When the death of a loved one occurs on a vessel, family members may be confused and overwhelmed. In addition, the employer, insurance company, and other parties may bombard the family with information and documents to sign.
Surviving family members facing financial hardships may be tempted to sign the documents and take whatever money the employer or insurance company offers. If you are in this position, signing any documents without seeking legal advice from an experienced maritime wrongful death attorney is not in your best interest.
What Laws Provide Damages for Maritime Wrongful Deaths?
There could be one or more federal laws that may govern your loved one’s wrongful death case. As a result, you could be entitled to substantial compensation depending on the laws involved and the circumstances of your family member’s death.
The type of work and the work’s location are often significant factors in determining which maritime law applies in your case. You could be entitled to compensation for death benefits under the following laws:
- Jones Act
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
- Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA)
- Other related maritime laws
Each of the maritime laws provides different benefits. Therefore, you want to ensure you file your wrongful death claim under the correct law. If one or more laws apply, an attorney can explain why filing under one law is in your best interest instead of filing under a different law.
Your loved one’s employer and the insurance company are not looking out for your best interest. Instead, they want to avoid paying sizable wrongful death claims if possible.
Therefore, do not rely on these sources for legal advice. Instead, talk with a lawyer who will fight to get you and your family the compensation you deserve after losing a loved one in a maritime accident.
If you were injured or a family member was killed in a maritime accident, contact a maritime attorney for help.
Contact Our Houston Jones Act Lawyers For Help
Have you been recently injured in a maritime accident? You might be entitled to recover damages for your injuries. Call Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers today to discuss your case on a free initial consultation.