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Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a federal remedy for the death of seamen or other individuals arising from negligence, strict liability, or the unseaworthiness of a vessel and occurring on the high seas that is beyond three nautical miles from shore on a worldwide basis.

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Note that individuals killed in an aircraft accident on the high seas are entitled to recover under DOHSA also. Legal proceedings must be initiated within 3 years of the accident by a representative of all survivors of the deceased individual. Damages awarded are based on actual monetary loss and do not extend to encompass such usual compensable expenses as medical and funeral costs. Additionally, the contributory negligence of the deceased may reduce but not eliminate the award.