The Death on the High Seas Act currently prevents the victims’ families from suing BP, Transocean. and the other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon drilling operation for compensation other than funeral expenses and a portion of the workers’ lost wages.
The bill that passed in the House amended the decades-old Death on the High Seas Act to allow families of the deceased oil workers to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of care, comfort and companionship. The bill, known as the Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability (SPILL) Act, passed the House by a voice vote. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose the change, arguing that it would expose maritime industries to new costs and legal burdens. The SPILL Act also updated another maritime liability law by repealing the Limitation of Liability Act, the 1851 law that allows Transocean to limit its liability to the worth of its now-destroyed rig. The bill now moves to the Senate.