The lawyers at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. have over 52 years of combined experience helping the families and spouses of those who have been fatally injured or lost at sea. Attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey is uniquely qualified to assist families with the complexities of maritime wrongful death law. He is one of fewer than 10 lawyers in Florida who are double Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law and in Civil Trial Law. Depending on the specific circumstances of your loved one's death, any one of a number of laws may apply.
If your loved one has died on a cruise ship or as a passenger or crewmember of any other kind of vessel, please call our experienced attorneys at 305-371-8000 for a free case evaluation.
The Death on the High Seas Act: More Than 3 Miles from a U.S. Shoreline
Maritime deaths which occur more than three miles from a United States shoreline can fall under the Death on the High Seas Act. This law limits the recovery of wrongful death damages to spouses, parents, children, and dependent relatives. Only pecuniary damages (those which can be quantified in monetary terms) are recoverable under this Act; you cannot recover compensation for damages such as loss of consortium or companionship.
The Death on the High Seas Act applies to all decedents killed in an accident over three miles from a U.S. shoreline, regardless of whether they are maritime workers or non-maritime workers.
General Maritime Wrongful Death: Less Than 3 Miles from a U.S. Shoreline
General maritime wrongful death law applies to both maritime workers and passengers who are killed within 3 nautical miles from a state shoreline or within U.S. territorial waters.
If a seaman or crewmember is killed within three nautical miles from a U.S. shoreline due to the negligence of an employer or ship owner, the Jones Act also applies, meaning a Jones Act wrongful death claim can potentially be filed alongside a general maritime wrongful death claim.
Longshoreman, Harbor, and Dock Worker Wrongful Death Claims
The Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA) applies to maritime workers who are not legally considered seamen. This includes:
- Land-based cargo handlers
- Crane operators
- Shoreside vessel workers
- Shipyard welders
Surviving family members of a maritime worker covered by the LHWCA are entitled to statutory death benefits, which are based upon a percentage of the deceased individual's wages, including funeral expenses.
If the worker's death occurred outside of the admiralty jurisdiction of a court, the family must seek recovery under state wrongful death laws.
How can maritime wrongful death be proven?
Wrongful death claims require an investigation. During the investigative process, all contributing factors are examined in order for liability to be properly assessed. When you hire an attorney for your case, he or she will work with experts in various fields to investigate your loved one’s death and determine the best course forward.
Who pays for a maritime wrongful death?
The liable party is responsible for compensating the victim’s family following maritime wrongful death. This is not, however, simply offered. In most cases, the insurer of the liable party will be responsible for any damages that come from a settlement or verdict.
How long the case can take in court
Most wrongful death claims take one to four years to resolve. Much of this is dependent on the complexities and severity of a case. The best way to achieve an honest assessment of how long your claim may take is through a frank conversation with an experienced maritime wrongful death lawyer.
Who can file a maritime wrongful death lawsuit?
There are three distinct areas of maritime wrongful death law: the Jones Act, which applies to employers, the Death on the High Seas Act, which applies to non-employers, and general wrongful death, which can apply to both. Who can file a wrongful death claim is entirely dependent on which section of law a case falls under. If you have lost a loved one in a maritime accident, the best way to determine if you are entitled to file suit is through a one-on-one consultation with an experienced attorney. In many cases, eligibility can be established with a phone call.
How attorney fees are determined
Nearly all maritime injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you will pay your attorney a percentage of your final settlement or verdict. Some firms charge interest on this fee. Make sure you discuss and agree to your lawyer’s terms before you hire them. Good lawyers are upfront and honest about everything, including their fees. If you do not feel completely comfortable with a firm’s fee structure, look for a different attorney. You are entitled to meet with as many lawyers as you’d like while looking for the right fit.
What kind of damages are available in a maritime wrongful death lawsuit?
Depending on which area of law a maritime wrongful death case falls under, you may be entitled to seek compensation for:
- End of Life and Funeral Expenses
- rojected Future Wages and Financial Contributions
- Loss of Retirement or 401k Benefits
- Loss of Companionship
- Emotional Pain and Suffering
The best way to learn what you may be entitled to seek through a maritime wrongful death claim is through a consultation with an experienced attorney. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
- "Mr. Hickey & his team are a delight to work with. Every person I've worked with there has been incredibly responsive, kind, helpful and knowledgeable. I highly recommend them should you be in the market for their services, you can't go wrong." - D.V.
- "Throughout one of the most difficult times in my life, Hickey Law Firm was right there assisting us in every way possible. They were extremely helpful, and very attentive. They by far made this process so much easier than I had ever imagined it to be. Thank you to Mr. Hickey and to Andrea for all of your tremendous help and support!" - A.P.
- "I have been a client of Hickey Law Firm over the last year. The team is completely professional in every way. The response to inquiries is extremely prompt and the team is very kind and helpful. I would recommend this firm to anyone." - R.B.
Contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A.
If your loved passed away in an accident at sea or on the job as a maritime worker, please contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. at 305-371-8000 today to speak to one of our experienced maritime wrongful death lawyers. We represent families in maritime wrongful death actions throughout the Miami area, the state of Florida and around the world.