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What Damages Are Available for a Seaman's Wrongful Death?

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When a seaman passes away while working offshore, one of the last things that families should have to concern themselves with is who will pay for funeral expenses and take responsibility for the financial contributions that the deceased seaman would have continued to make to the family had the accident and death not occurred. Unfortunately, many vessel owners and employers try to avoid paying the family of deceased seaman the proper amount of damages.

When a seaman dies on the job, several different statutes and laws govern the rights of the seaman's family. If the death occurs more than three nautical miles from territorial waters of a state, then the Death on the High Seas Act will apply. Simultaneously, if the accident occurred in any navigable water, then the Jones Act will apply. Both the Death on the High Seas Act and the Jones Act provide that a seaman's spouse, child, and dependent relative may recover only economic (or pecuniary) losses. These losses include funeral expenses, loss of financial support, value of lost services the deceased seaman would have performed, and loss of probable inheritance. Children of a deceased seaman can also seek recover for loss of nurture, loss of care and guidance, and loss of support and training. Neither the Death on the High Seas Act or the Jones Act provide for recovery of loss of society, loss of consortium, or pain and suffering of the family members.

The estate of the deceased seaman can also bring survivor claims under the Jones Act that allow for recovery of earned and unearned wages, maintenance, medical expenses, and pre-death pain and suffering.

If your loved one passed away while working offshore, contact the experienced lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584 for your free consultation to learn more about how our experienced attorneys may be able to help you and your family obtain all that you are entitled to recover under the law.

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