Who Is Considered A Seaman Under The Jones Act?

The Jones Act provides a way for injured seamen to receive fair compensation for their injuries, as well as maintenance and cure while they are recovering. However, these benefits are available only to those who meet the law's definition of a seaman. It's not always easy to tell who qualifies as a seaman — many Jones Act cases involve disputes over whether someone is covered by the law or not — but here are some of the main considerations:

  • Your workplace: To be considered a seaman, you must work on a "vessel in navigation" on the navigable waters of the United States. This vessel does not have to be in motion (it can be tied to the dock), but it must be capable of moving. This means that workers on fixed oil rigs generally are not covered by the Jones Act, but workers on submersible oil rigs may be.
  • Your job: A seaman can be a captain, an officer, an engineer, a deckhand or another crew member on board the vessel. Your job does not need to necessarily be tied to navigating the vessel, but it should be related to the mission of the vessel. For example, a ship's cook would likely be covered, even if he does not assist in navigation or standing watch.
  • The "30 percent rule": Your job may include duties both on shore and at sea. The Jones Act generally requires that a worker spend at least 30 percent of their working time on a vessel in navigation to be considered a seaman.

What If I Don't Qualify For Jones Act Coverage?

Many people who work in the maritime industry do not qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, but that doesn't mean they are out of luck if they get hurt. If you work in the maritime industry but don't meet the 30 percent threshold required for coverage under the Jones Act, you are likely covered under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

Experienced, Driven Representation For Injured Seamen

If you have been injured while working on the water, contact Frischhertz Poulliard Frischhertz & Impastato LLC for help obtaining compensation under the Jones Act. With more than 75 years of collective experience representing injured workers, our team of attorneys will work closely with you to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are eligible for.

Call our New Orleans office at 504-264-9915 or 866-920-5611 to schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer. You may also send us a message online.

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