The Death on the High Seas Act provides financial compensation to direct family members (spouses, children, and parents) or dependant relatives of someone whose death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default. This law doesn’t affect individual state’s wrongful death laws.
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If the victim was partly responsible for his death—called contributory negligence—the law doesn’t prevent family members from recovering compensation; however, the amount of responsibility for the incident is taken into account and the award is reduced accordingly.
Also, the Death on the High Seas Act only covers financial loss sustained by those bringing the suit. The amount of compensation each person receives will be determined by the loss sustained.
The Death on the High Seas Act does not apply to wrongful deaths that occurred less than three nautical miles from the United States shore, and also does not apply to the Great Lakes or waters within the territorial limits of a state.
In the case of commercial aviation accidents that occurred more than 12 nautical miles from shore, additional compensation can be awarded for what are called “non-pecuniary damages.” That includes loss of care, comfort, and companionship.