Duquesne Law Review


The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) provides a federal cause of action for deaths resulting from "wrongful act, neglect, or default" which occurs beyond three nautical miles from the shore of any state, territory or dependency of the United States. The measure of damages in an action brought under the Act is defined as the amount of the pecuniary loss sustained by the beneficiaries; the Supreme Court, construing the Act, has held that non-pecuniary remedies, such as compensation for loss of society, cannot be recovered in a DOHSA action. The issue remains, however, as to whether a DOHSA recovery can be supplemented with a claim for survival damages. This article discusses the question of whether such a claim can be properly joined with a DOHSA claim, and considers the possible sources of a survival remedy for deaths occuring on the high seas.

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