The Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor is proud to report a recent significant decision that provides clarification for the filing of Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA) claims.
When a loved one dies in a tragic accident, due to the negligence of another party, it can be a very overwhelming and confusing time. Families who file lawsuits and seek damages as a result of the tragedy are often anxious to begin the legal process. Due to the intricacies of maritime laws, this can sometimes mean that an important step is overlooked and the consequences can leave family without any legal options.
Such is the case for lawsuits filed under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA), a wrongful death claim that occurs more than three miles off shore. The Act states that a claim can only be brought by the “personal representative of the estate.” To become the “personal representative,” the family member must be officially so appointed by the court.
Our firm represented the son of a woman who was killed in a recreational boating accident off the Long Beach coast. The woman was the passenger in a boat operated by her boyfriend when it collided with a barge being towed by a tug boat.
Prior to hiring our firm, the son proceeded with a claim against the boyfriend’s insurance company. After the setting with the insurance company, he hired our firm to file a DOSHA claim against the tug and barge company. There is a three year statute of limitations on DOSHA claims – meaning the claim must be filed within three years from the date of injury.
Due to the impending statute of limitations deadline when our firm received the case, we filed the DOSHA claim first, and had our client sworn in as the “personal representative” at a later date. The process was challenged by opposing council. The United States District Court, Central District of California, announced its ruling last week. The court agreed with our position, stating that it would have been an “injustice” not to allow the lawsuit to continue simply because our client was not sworn in before the suit had been filed.
The court’s ruling established a significant precedent allowing leeway for grieving families in the manner in which they may comply with the technical requirements for filing a DOSHA claims.