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In most cases a seaman's death that results from employer negligence, wherever it occurs, is covered under the Jones Act. A claim that unseaworthiness caused a seaman's death on the high seas is covered under Death on the High Seas Act . A seaman's death within three miles of shore caused by an unseaworthy condition is not covered under Death on the High Seas Act , but may be pursued against the vessel's owner under the admiralty law rule announced in a Supreme Court Case.
A Federal law, the Death on the High Seas Act, covers certain claims when a person dies on the high seas-beyond three miles from shore-due to negligent conduct. The damages under this act are limited to the loss of the benefit of the deceased persons' services.
A for wrongful death is based on an important case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970, called Moragne. Moragne changed an old admiralty law forbidding recovery for a seaman's wrongful death. Under Moragne, a wrongful death claim may be based on a vessel's unseaworthiness, or whenever the defendant's conduct caused death on U.S. territorial waters. If the deceased person is not a seaman or maritime worker under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, wrongful death remedies provided under state law may be available.
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