You probably qualify as a seaman if you meet certain criteria specified in the Jones Act, which governs situations where maritime workers are injured on the job. A few of those criteria include actually working on a vessel, ship, or another covered type of seacraft and providing services to a single specific ship.
If you are classified as a seaman, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your work-related injury and related damages. A lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify as a seaman and are eligible for benefits under the Jones Act. This can take a lot of guesswork and research out of the equation so that you can focus on getting better and back to work.
How the Jones Act May Apply to You
An important law for every maritime worker is the Jones Act, 46 U.S. Code §30104. This law provides various rights to seamen who are hurt on the job. Under the Jones Act, you can bring a claim against your employer if you were injured at work due to your employer’s carelessness. In this claim, you can recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
One of the first steps is proving that you qualify as a seaman under the law. Only seamen are eligible to bring a claim under the statute. A seaman is someone who works on a vessel and is part of supporting the vessel’s mission or work.
This means you must work on the vessel for at least 30% of your duties. Many different job duties meet this standard. A few examples of job descriptions that commonly qualify as a seaman include:
- General crewmen
- Ship officers
Proving That You Work on a Vessel
There are a few factors to consider regarding the vessel requirement of the Jones Act. Not everyone who works in a shipyard works on a vessel. Types of vessels covered under the act include:
- Drilling platforms
- Floating cleaning barges
- Production storage and offloading units
- Semi-submersible drilling platforms
In addition to proving that you work on a vessel, you must also prove the vessel is “in navigation.” This means the vessel is:
- In operation
- Has the ability to move; and
- Is on navigable waters
The vessel does not have to be moving or at sea for you to be classified as a seaman. The vessel must simply have the ability to move. A vessel can be tied up at a dock or mooring and still meet the four criteria of this definition, but if the vessel is at a dry dock and on blocks out of the water, it is not considered a vessel, so you will probably not be classified as a seaman.
When an Employer is Liable for a Seaman’s Injury
A maritime occupation is one of the most dangerous types of work. Workers are faced with countless dangers and risky situations daily. This is true even if the vessel is as safe as possible.
Maritime employers are required to follow rules to make sure the workplace is as safe as it can be. Unfortunately, some of them cut corners, fail to keep a close eye on each vessel, or drop the ball.
Under the Jones Act, an employer can be held liable for your injuries if you can show it did not provide you with a reasonably safe work environment and that you were injured because of the employer’s failure. A few examples of situations where an employer may be liable for a resulting injury include:
- Hiring employees without proper training
- Lack of proper training
- Forklift accidents
- Lack of adequate lighting
- Lack of safety policies
- Poor enforcement of safety rules
- Falling, tripping, or slipping
- Lack of proper safety equipment
- Unsafe driving speeds
- Improper handling of dangerous chemicals
- A vessel that is not seaworthy
Statute of Limitations
Time may be running out on your claim, so don’t wait. You have only three years after your injury to bring a lawsuit against your employer under the Jones Act, according to 46 U.S. Code §30106.
Call Now to Work with Our Attorneys
If you want to learn more about whether you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act and are eligible for compensation, contact Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers now. You can learn more about your legal rights and how we may be able to help you during a free consultation. Dial (337) 777-7777 now to get started.