Seamen and maritime workers qualify for protection under several different acts. The Jones Act protects seamen in particular, but what defines a seaman? While the Jones Act isn’t specific, generally speaking, any member of the crew of a vessel who spends 30% of their work time or more on a vessel or fleet of vessels is considered a seaman. This includes most crew boat, cruise ship, supply boat, drilling barge, work boat, derrick barge, dive boat and drill ship workers.
If you have been injured and want to know if you qualify as a seaman, an attorney can help you clarify your rights and help you decide whether you should pursue legal action. Lambert Zainey is experienced in cases involving Jones Act protection for vessel workers.
The Jones Act
Becoming federal law in the 1920s, the Jones Act was created to protect seamen injured or killed on the job or while in service to the vessel or fleet of vessels to which they are more or less permanently assigned. Unlike Worker’s Compensation, the Jones Act provides seamen to sue their employers for negligence that caused their injuries, giving them up to three years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.
Not sure if you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act? You should ask an attorney, but a few potential indications of Jones Act seaman status are:
- Work on a vessel (or fleet of vessels) in navigation;
- Contribute to the mission and purpose of the vessel (or fleet of vessels); and,
- More or less permanently assigned to the vessel (or fleet of vessels).
A maritime lawyer can help you decide if you qualify as a Jones Act seaman if you are not sure.
Your Rights as a Seamen under the Act
When seamen are injured as a result of employer negligence aboard a vessel, they are provided rights by the Jones Act. As a member of the crew of a vessel, you are entitled to a reasonably safe place to work. If your employer, the vessel owner or any other company is responsible for creating an unsafe condition that causes you to be injured, you have the right to recover damages.
What makes the Jones Act different from Worker’s Compensation is that if you can prove fault, you are entitled to recover many more types of damages than you could under Worker’s Compensation, where fault does not need to be proven. Jones Act seamen can recover past and future lost wages, medical care, pain and suffering, general damages, and are still entitled to maintenance and cure. As a reminder, maintenance and cure is an age-old right of the seaman under General Maritime Law that requires an employer to provide an injured seaman with necessary medical care and room and board in the event of an injury or illness while in service to a vessel, regardless of fault.
These different acts, laws and rights can be complex so it is important not to accept settlement payments or sign any documents you don’t understand without talking to an attorney first. Remember that at Lambert Zainey, any conversations you have with us, whether by text, e-mail or over the phone, are completely confidential.
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An experienced maritime lawyer can help injured seaman secure the compensation they deserve under the Jones Act. Call Lambert Zainey today at 1-800-521-1750 and tell us about your claim. We have over 35 years of experience in maritime injury cases and put our clients first every time.