Do I Qualify As A Seaman Under The Jones Act?
Have you been injured in an accident while working aboard a vessel? The Jones Act entitles you to seek compensation for the damages resulting from your work-related injuries. However, to collect this compensation you’ll first have to prove that you qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act.
What Is The Jones Act?
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as The Jones Act, is a federal law passed by Congress in 1922. The purpose of the law was the promotion and maintenance of a merchant marine:
- Sufficient to carry the waterborne domestic commerce and a substantial part of the waterborne export and import foreign commerce of the United States; and
- Capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in times of war or national emergency.
Among other things, the Jones Act gives qualifying maritime workers the right to sue their employers after they’ve been injured in an on-the-job accident caused by the negligence of their employers and/or the unseaworthiness of the vessel they were serving aboard.
Only a “Seaman” Can Bring a Jones Act Claim
Only a “seaman” is able to bring a Jones Act claim. To qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, a maritime worker must meet certain criteria:
- You were employed on a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigation,
- You contributed to the mission or purpose of the vessel or group of vessels, and
- Your connection to the vessel or group of vessels was substantial in terms of both duration and nature.
Determining if you qualify as a seaman can be confusing and often requires analysis by an experienced maritime attorney.
Contributing To The Mission or Operation of a Vessel
Almost any type of work performed aboard a vessel in navigation contributes to the mission or operation of that vessel in some way. However, recent court developments require that the worker be in engaged in sea-based or seagoing activity.
What Is Considered a Vessel
A vessel is any type of watercraft or contrivance used or capable or being used as a means of transportation on water. The definition of a vessel is not limited to traditional ships and boats. It can include other types of watercraft or artificial contrivance used, or capable of being practically used, as a means of transportation on navigable waters.
Navigable waters are any waters that are capable of being navigated for commerce and to which federal admiralty jurisdiction applies. This not only includes the open seas and intercoastal waterways bordering the U.S., but also any inland waterways that are used for commerce, such as rivers, lakes, and canals.
“Substantial” is a broad term. Generally, in order to qualify as a Jones Act seaman, the worker must spend at least 30% of their total employment time contributing to the mission or operation of a vessel or group of vessels and be engaged in sea-based or seagoing activity.
Not Sure If You Qualify as a Seaman? Speak To a Jones Act Lawyer
If you’ve been injured while working aboard a vessel, the Jones Act gives you the right to seek compensation for the damages caused by your injuries, including current and anticipated medical expenses, lost wages and employment, pain, suffering, and more. If you have questions about how to file a Jones Act claim or if you meet the qualifications for being a seaman under the Jones Act, give the New Orleans maritime attorneys at Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC a call.
Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC is considered to be one of the finest maritime and admiralty law litigation firms in the country. Our maritime accident lawyers have played a crucial role in many of the most important maritime cases in the last 40 years – including those that define the requirements for a person and a vessel to be governed by the Jones Act.
Some of our Jones Act/general maritime law case verdicts include:
- A $1,700,000 settlement for severe injuries caused by an explosion and fire aboard a vessel.
- A $2,757,008 jury award for a rig crew member who suffered an arm-crushing injury.
- A $1,139,828, judge award (including $150,000 in punitive damages and attorney fees) for a leg and cervical spine injury caused by another crewmember.
You only have a limited time in which to file a Jones Act claim. If you wait too long, the courts may refuse to hear your case. Contact the law offices of Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC through our website, or call us at (800) 960-1526 as soon as possible after your accident to schedule a free initial consultation with a highly experienced Jones Act attorney. We are headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, but serve clients all over the Gulf Coast and across the U.S.