The Jones Act is a federal statute that gives legal protections to “seamen” who are injured in the course or scope of their employment. If you have been working in the maritime industry for some time you probably have heard of the Jones Act but you may not know whether you are considered a “seaman” for Jones Act purposes. It is important to know whether you are classified as a seaman because only injured seaman can recover under the Jones Act. If you are not a seaman you are likely to have legal rights and protections under other laws such as the Longshore Harbor & Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) when you are injured in a maritime accident.
Under the Jones Act, 6 USCS Appx § 688, in order to considered a seaman a person must spend a significant amount of employment time rendering maritime work that contributes to the mission of a vessel that is in navigation. In most cases, if a maritime employee spends at least 30 percent of his work time on a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigation and capable of moving on navigable waters, the employee will meet the “significant amount of time” requirement.
Another issue that often arises in Jones Act cases is whether or not the injured individual worked on a “vessel in navigation.” In order to meet this requirement, the vessel has to be (1) afloat, (2) in operation, (3) capable of moving (4) on navigable waters.
For instance, maritime employees who work on movable jack-up platforms or jack-up rigs are typically classified as seamen under the Jones Act, whereas individuals who work on permanently fixed drilling platforms and other immovable structures are generally not. There are some structures that may qualify as vessels in certain circumstances and in other instances they will not. These “part-time” vessels can include oil and gas platforms, casino boats tied to a dock, floating work platforms and barges and other structures.
A Seaman Law Firm Can Help You Determine Whether You Are a Seaman
The question of whether an individual qualifies as a seaman under the Jones Act can involve complicated legal issues. If you have been injured in any type of maritime accident, you should consult with an experienced Jones Act lawyer who can help you determine what legal remedies may be available to help compensate you for your injuries. A skilled maritime lawyer at the Willis Law Firm will review your situation to evaluate whether the vessel or fleet of vessels that you worked on and the type of work you performed when you were injured meet the legal requirements for Jones Act status. In the event that you do not qualify for Jones Act protections, an attorney at our firm will identify all other avenues of legal recourse that may be available to you.
The Wills Law Firm is an experienced maritime injury firm that helps seaman and other maritime workers across the nation recover the financial compensation they deserve. You can contact us 24/7 to schedule a free, confidential case review.