Can You Sue When A Family Member Dies Offshore?

August 7, 2015

Houston Offshore Injury Lawyer

Our experienced offshore injury lawyers often hear from family members of offshore workers or maritime seamen who have died on drilling rigs or on the high seas. They ask things like:

  • What happens when a family member dies offshore?
  • My husband died offshore? What are my options?
  • What compensation is available when someone dies offshore?
  • What compensation is available when someone dies on a ship, tanker, or barge?
  • Who is responsible when someone dies offshore?
  • Does the Jones Act cover wrongful death?

These are all good questions, and as the discussion below indicates, the answers are often complicated.

Your best bet is to contact one of our Houston Jones Act lawyers now to discuss your options. We handle offshore and maritime injury cases all over the U.S.

The Jones Act

The estate of an offshore or maritime worker who dies is often entitled to recover from the employer under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act, 28 U.S.C. § 30104, provides that “a seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law . . . with the right of trial by jury . . . against the employer.”

The Jones Act provides both (1) a “wrongful death action” for damages suffered by family members, and (2) a “survival action” for the injuries and pain and suffering of the seaman before he or she died.

A Jones Act claim typically involves proof of negligence.

Death On The High Seas Act

When a seaman dies more than 3 nautical miles offshore, the Death On The High Seas Act or “DOSHA” applies and permits claims against the employer.


When a seaman dies less than 3 nautical miles offshore, surviving family members are entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death based on unseaworthiness against the vessel owner or employer.

Third-Party Claims

Depending on how an offshore or maritime worker dies, the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation from someone besides the employer.

For example, if an employee of an offshore drilling company dies in an offshore accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to sue the oil company, the wireline company, the cement company, the ROV company, or one of the other services companies.

If a crewman dies in a tanker or barge collision, the surviving family members may be able to sue the companies that own and operate the other vessel.

Time For Filing Suit

Typically, wrongful death actions arising from offshore and maritime accidents must be filed within 3 years of the accident.

Damages Available

The available damages typically include pecuniary losses and conscious pain and suffering.

Houston Offshore Injury Attorneys Assist Family Members Of Deceased Workers

Our Houston Jones Act lawyers proudly represent family members of those who die performing difficult and often thankless work offshore and on the high seas.

We offer free consultations, and we only get paid if you win. Please contact us now to discuss your case.

Get a Free Case Review by Calling Morrow & Sheppard Now.

We’re available 24/7.

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