Death on the High Seas Act

The Death on the High Seas Act was originally intended to apply to shipwrecks and other shipping accidents in international waters.  Though a law of admiralty, DOHSHigh Seas and Air France Flight 447A’s wording is broad enough to cover any accident, not just shipping accidents. Therefore, it applies with equal force to aviation accidents occurring on the high seas.

The "high seas" are those international waters more than 12 nautical miles from the shore of the United States or one of its islands.  After an aviation accident, it doesn’t matter whether the passenger’s family sues the responsible airline under the Warsaw or Montreal conventions, a mechanic for negligence, or a manufacturer for a defectively designed product. If the accident happened on or over the "high seas," those responsible for the


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