Most seafarers know that if they suffer injuries while working on Louisiana’s navigable waters, they can turn to either the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act for compensation. What about the families of those seamen who lose their lives while performing their duties? In that case, qualified family members may turn to the Death on the High Seas Act, which is another part of admiralty and maritime law enacted to protect seamen and their families.
Qualifying family members include those who relied on the income of the deceased seafarer such as spouses, children and siblings. Not only could they be entitled to monetary compensation for the lost income, but through amendments to the act, family members may also receive restitution for the mental anguish and trauma caused by the loss of a loved one. The problem is that computing the amount of damages could be complex.
However, those are not the only legalities that could cause an issue. For example, the death must involve either unlawful actions or negligence, unlike when a seaman files an injury claim. Surviving family members must file their claims within a certain amount of time set forth in Louisiana law. Moreover, the suit must be filed in a certain manner in order to comply with the act.
For instance, the act requires that act requires that an attorney experienced in admiralty and maritime law oversees the process. This protects family members from being taken advantage of by large shipping companies and conglomerates who attempt to avoid meeting their responsibilities under the act. These companies understand the nuances of laws such as the act, and family members deserve the same opportunities to understand their rights and legal options in the face of such a tragedy.