Senator Introduces Legislation to Amend Death on the High Seas Act

Yesterday, Senator Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) introduced legislation to amend the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”) to provide a basis for compensation for the pain, suffering and other emotional losses suffered by the surviving family members of loved ones killed at sea. “Hammer’s Law” is a bill named for Larry and Christy Hammer of Omaha, Nebraska who tragically lost their lives in a fire in their cabin onboard a Peruvian river cruise on April 10, 2016.  As matters now stand, when an adult child loses a parent on the high seas (defined as outside of U.S. state territorial waters, including the rivers and waters of foreign countries), the law permits, at best, the recovery of only “pecuniary” (financial) losses, such as lost wages (assuming the person is employed). If the person is a retiree, or a child, the only damages permitted are the expenses of burying their loved one. Emotional damages such as grief, bereavement, mental…

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