General Maritime Law (“GML”) Wrongful Death Claim

General Maritime Law applies to wrongful death claims of both maritime and non-maritime workers (i.e., cruise passengers, crew members and certain oil field workers) whose death results within 3 nautical miles from shore or within state territorial waters. Having previously represented shipping, cruise line and marine insurance companies for 19 years, the board certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak are in a unique position to protect the families of cruise ship passengers, crew members and certain oil field workers whose family member’s death occurred within 3 nautical miles of shore. The lawyers at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak with offices in Miami, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas with offices in Miami, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas are here to serve the families of seamen, crew members and oil field workers as a result of an accident causing death.

There are two general circumstances where the general maritime law (a/k/a “Moragne”) wrongful death claim applies:

  • A personal representative’s claim on behalf of a longshore worker against a non-vessel third party tortfeasor; and
  • A representative’s claim on behalf of passengers or other persons aboard a ship or aircraft whose death occurred within state territorial waters.

In Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. v. Calhoun, the Supreme Court held that state law remedies, including state statutory wrongful death and survival remedies, can supplement general maritime law if the death involves a non-seafarer (neither a seaman nor a longshoremen) who is killed within state waters (generally within 3 nautical miles of shore). In re Amtrak “Sunset Limited” Crash, limited the Yamaha’s decision by holding that even within state waters, state remedies may not supplement general maritime law wrongful death remedies if the non-seafarers death resulted from navigation of a commercial vessel.

As with many admiralty and maritime claims, the law governing the available damages of a non-seafarer within state waters is extremely complex thus, requiring your retention of experts in the field of admiralty and maritime law.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click email the firm, call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


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Maritime Law Blog - Maritime Wrongful Death