Do You Qualify as a Seaman Under the Jones Act?
To seek compensation under the Jones Act, an injured worker must be a “seaman.”
However, the law does not define what a seaman is. In the years following
the passage of the Jones Act, court rulings have established that a seaman
is any individual employed on a vessel in navigable waters, who spends
at least 30 percent of the time working aboard a vessel, and whose duties
aboard the vessel must contribute to the function of the vessel or to
the accomplishment of its mission.
Examples of maritime employees who qualify as seamen under the Jones Act
include captains, mates, deckhands, engineers, stewards, fishermen, or
sailors who work on crew boats, cruise ships, supply boats, barges, dive
boats, and fishing vessels. If you are wondering if you qualify for Jones
Act protections as a seaman, it is important to speak with an attorney
who can clearly explain your rights and help you determine if you should
pursue legal action.
If you work on one of these types of vessels, whether on the ocean, in
seaports, or on intracoastal lakes, rivers or canals, you may be protected
under the Jones Act:
- Cruise ships
- Tug boats
- Drill ships
- Crew boats
- Riverboat casinos
- Fishing and shrimp boats
The Jones Act also protects the legal rights of offshore oil rig workers.
According to maritime law, oil rigs are considered vessels. The Ammons
Law Firm has been successfully representing injured seamen in cases involving
the Jones Act for more than 20 years, and we would be glad to discuss
the details surrounding your injury and determine if your work description
meets the definition of being a “seaman.”
Your Right to Compensation Under the Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure. Maintenance
refers to compensation for living expenses while the seaman is unable
to work due to injuries, while cure refers to medical expenses related
to the seaman’s injuries. In addition, the injured seaman may be
able to seek compensation for lost wages, past medical bills, future medical
bills, pain and suffering, permanent disability, ongoing physical therapy
and diminished quality of life.
In order to collect compensation under the Jones Act, an injured seaman
must prove that their injuries were caused by negligence on the part of
an employer, coworker or ship owner. As Jones Act attorneys, we know the
ins and outs of the Jones Act and other maritime laws. We possess the
expertise and knowledge to guide you through the process, gather the evidence
needed to establish your claim, and negotiate the best compensation possible
in your situation.
Maintenance & Cure
Almost all seamen who become ill or injured while at sea qualify for
maintenance and cure benefits, regardless of who was responsible for their injuries. Maintenance provides
for such things as food and lodging; cure covers the injured worker’s
medical costs. Maintenance payments amount to about $35 – $45 day
and last until the injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement
– a state where the injured worker’s condition cannot be improved
upon any further or when doctor declares them ready to return to work.