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46 U.S. Code § 30302 - Cause of action

When the death of an individual is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond 3 nautical miles from the shore of the United States, the personal representative of the decedent may bring a civil action in admiralty against the person or vessel responsible. The action shall be for the exclusive benefit of the decedent’s spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative.

Historical and Revision Notes



Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


46 App.:761(a).

Mar. 30, 1920, ch. 111, § 1(a), 41 Stat. 537; Pub. L. 106–181, title IV, § 404(a)(1), Apr. 5, 2000, 114 Stat. 131.

The words “Subject to subsection (b) of this section” are omitted as unnecessary. The words “3 nautical miles” are substituted for “a marine league” for clarity. The words “United States” are substituted for “any State, or the District of Columbia, or the Territories or dependencies of the United States” because of the definition of “United States” in chapter 1 of the revised title. The words “bring a civil action” are substituted for “maintain a suit” for consistency with rule 2 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 App. U.S.C.). The words “for damages” are omitted as unnecessary. The words “in the district courts of the United States” are omitted as unnecessary because of 28 U.S.C. 1333. The words “person or vessel” are substituted for “vessel, person, or corporation” because of 1 U.S.C. 1. The word “responsible” is substituted for “which would have been liable if death had not ensued” to eliminate unnecessary words.