Death On The
High Seas Act


Federal statute 46 U.S.C. sections 30301-30308 are referred to as the Death on the High Seas Act (“Act”). The Act allows the decedents (spouse, child, parent, or dependent family member) of an individual whose death is caused by neglect or wrongful act more than three miles off the United States shore to bring a civil action against a responsible party or entity. The Act also applies to airline that occur over water and more than twelve miles from domestic shorelines.

The beneficiaries of the decedent are entitled to “fair compensation for the pecuniary loss sustained by the individuals for whose benefit the action is brought,” reducing the amount accordingly if contributory negligence is applicable. The Death on High Seas Act also allows a personal representative to substitute a deceased plaintiff in a legal matter if a civil action has already been filed by the time of death, ensuring that the proceedings will continue.