A bill that will help the surviving family members of the 11 men killed last year in the Deepwater Horizon blowout has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. The Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act (S.183) will make it possible for families of the deceased to recover damages from BP, Transocean and subcontractors.
The Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act amends federal maritime laws including the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), and Shipowners’ Liability Act of 1851, so the surviving families of Deepwater Horizon victims can claim non-compensatory damages, including pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Those damages are not allowed under the Jones Act or DOHSA. Under normal circumstances, DOHSA limits compensation to funeral expenses and lost wages.
The Shipowners’ Liability Act of 1851 limits compensation for a maritime accident to the value of the vessel and its cargo. If passed, the bill will waive this limit and allow injured workers and families of the victims to bring suit without a final judgment in the Transocean limitation of liability action. Transocean filed last May to limit its liability.
If passed, the bill will affect only individual victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Last year a similar bill stalled in the Senate.
The maritime injury attorneys at The Young Firm support this bill and are committed to helping the families affected by the Deepwater Horizon to obtain justice for their losses.