Who is a Jones Act Seaman?

Jones Act Claims – Seaman Status

Under the Jones Act maritime workers who are classified as “seaman” are entitled to certain legal rights when they are injured on the job. These entitlements include the right to receive maintenance and cure payments from an employer, the right to collect unearned wages from an employer and the right to file a negligence lawsuit to recover damages when the seaman is injured as a result of the negligent actions of his or her employer. Before an injured maritime worker is entitled to these rights, the worker must establish that he meets the legal definition of a “Jones Act seaman”. Whether a person meets the requirements for seaman status can be a complex legal issue. The analysis requires an evaluation as to whether the maritime employee meets certain essential criteria, including:

  • The employee’s work duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission;
  • The vessel or fleet of vessels that the person is working aboard must be in navigation (vessel must be afloat, in operation, capable of moving and on navigable waters); and
  • The employee must have a substantial connection with a vessel in navigation (this generally means that at least 30 percent of the individual’s work time must be aboard the vessel or fleet of vessels).

It is important to understand that the total circumstances of the worker’s employment should be considered when determining whether a maritime worker meets the requirement for seaman status. This means that a court should avoid using a “snapshot” test that only looks at the circumstances as they existed at the time of the injury; but rather, the court should look at the complete circumstances of the injured worker’s employment to determine whether the individual has a significant relationship to the vessel and its operation in navigable waters.

Types of Vessels Covered Under the Jones Act

While the determination as to whether a specific vessel falls under the Jones Act involves complex legal issues that are best analyzed by an experienced Jones Act lawyer, the following types of ships, boats and structures have been classified as vessels under the Jones Act by many courts across the nation:

  • Cargo Ships
  • Tug Boats
  • Tow Boats
  • Hopper & Tank Barges
  • Fishing Boats
  • Shrimp Boats
  • Fish Processing Ship
  • Jack-Up Rigs
  • Gravel and Sand Barges
  • Drilling Barges
  • Semi-Submersible Ships
  • Drill Ships
  • Car & Passenger Ferries
  • Crew Boats
  • Construction Barges
  • Lay Pipeline Barges
  • Liquid Cargo Barges
  • Dry Bulk Barges
  • Crude Oil & Chemical Transport Barges Floating Crane Barge
  • Supply Boats
  • Casino Ships
  • Yachts
  • Charter Boats & Sailboats
  • Pleasure Boats

The vessels listed above are just some of the boats, ships, floating and motorized structures that certain courts have categorized as vessels under the Jones Act. There are many other types of boats, ships and structures that may qualify as vessels under the Jones Act and a court will weigh a number of different factors when determining whether a specific boat, ship or structure has vessel status.

The Willis Law Firm Represents Injured Seaman Nationwide

If you have been injured on a ship or vessel and are unsure as to whether you may be a Jones Act seaman with actionable legal claims under the Jones Act the Willis Law Firm can help. An experienced maritime injury lawyer at our firm will evaluate your case to identify all legal remedies that may be available to help compensate you for your injuries. We will answer your questions about the Jones Act and other maritime laws so that you have the information you need at every stage of the legal process. Call us today at 1-800-468-4878 to schedule a free, confidential review of your case.

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Houston, Texas 77056

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Houston, Texas 77029

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