Death on the High Seas Act

Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)

Airplane Accident Lawyers

Historically, in 1920, congress enacted Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The Act was in response to shipping accidents occurring on the high seas. The Act limited the recovery to “pecuniary loss” which has been interpreted by the courts to mean only actual financial loss.

The Death on the High Seas Act was originally applicable when death of a person occurred by the wrongful act or neglect occurred on the high seas beyond a “marine league” (three miles) from the shore of any state, District of Columbia, or the territories or dependencies of the United States. The scope and range of DOHSA was extended to 12 nautical miles in 1988.

In recent cases, air carriers have argued that DOHSA should apply to airline disasters occurring within the parameters set forth above. The United States Supreme Court held with respect to Korean Airlines 007 litigation that when DOHSA applies to an aviation disaster, the plaintiffs are not entitled to recover any damages they have suffered from the loss of society, love and companionship of a deceased passenger. Nor can the decedent’s estate recover for the conscious pain and suffering and pre-impact terror of the decedent. In applying DOHSA, the courts have effected the drastic impact of limiting death claims for wage earning decedents only.

If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an airplane crash, you need the assistance of the Scarlett Law Group. Call (415) 688-2176today to speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney.


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  • $1.2 BILLION Catastrophic Injury
  • $49 MILLION Brain Injury
  • $26 MILLION Medical Malpractice
  • $18.6 MILLION Wrongful Death
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