Death on the High Seas Act

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Death on the High Seas Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act relating to the maintenance of actions for death on the high seas and other navigable waters.
NicknamesDeath on the High Seas Act 1920
Enacted bythe 66th United States Congress
EffectiveMarch 30, 1920
Public lawPub.L. 66–165
Statutes at Large41 Stat. 537
Titles amended46 U.S.C.: Shipping
U.S.C. sections created46 U.S.C. ch. 303 § 30301 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 2085
  • Passed the Senate on October 20, 1919 (Passed)
  • Passed the House on March 17, 1920 (201-75) with amendment
  • Senate agreed to House amendment on March 22, 1920 (Agreed)
  • Signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on March 30, 1920

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) (46 U.S.C. §§ 30301–30308) is a United States admiralty law enacted by the United States Congress. It was originally intended to permit "recovery of damages against a shipowner by a spouse, child or dependent family member of a seaman killed in international waters"[1] in wrongful death cases "caused by negligence or unseaworthiness."[2] It also applies to cases arising out of airline disasters over the high seas that occur beyond the 12-nautical miles of U.S. territorial waters.[3]


  1. ^ Schaffer, Agusti & Earle, 199–200.
  2. ^ Force, Yiannopoulos & Davies, 516
  3. ^ Schaffer, Agusti & Earle, 200.


  • Force, Robert; Yiannopoulos, A.N. & Davies, Martin. (2006). Admiralty and Maritime Law [Abridged Edition]. Beard Books. ISBN 1-58798-290-0
  • Schaffer, Richard; Agusti, Filiberto & Earle, Beverley. (2008). International Business Law and Its Environment. South-Western College/West; 7 edition. ISBN 0-324-64967-3.