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Are You Covered By The Jones Act? Find Out Now By Reading This Article By Attorney Bill Voss

Are You Covered by the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that gives injured seamen some legal protection, since Workers’ Compensation doesn’t apply. Maritime law has a few different provisions to protect injured maritime workers in different capacities, and the Jones Act applies specifically to injured seamen onboard vessels. The distinction can be a fine one, though. Are injured oil rig workers, for example, covered under the Jones Act? Here’s what you need to know about who’s covered:

Federal Courts Define “Seamen” Under the Jones Act
To be recognized as an injured “seaman” under the Jones Act, you have to meet a few important criteria:

You must spend more than 30% of your time working on a vessel
All persons who are employed on a vessel and meet this criteria are eligible
The Jones Act covers officers, crew members, captains or ship owners - most any worker onboard a vessel more than 30% of the time
Your vessel should operate in navigable waters; this typically includes vessels on the ocean, on the Gulf of Mexico or on some rivers and waterways

What is a Vessel Under the Jones Act?
To qualify to file a claim under the Jones Act, you must work on a vessel that can move around navigable waters - even vessels that can be towed. This means things like fixed production platforms typically aren’t covered by the Jones Act, but are generally covered under other maritime law. Vessels may include:

Ships
Boats
Barges
Fishing boats
Tugboats
Casino boats
Supply Boats
Drilling rigs
Jack-up drilling rigs
Drilling barges and towable platforms

Other vessels may also qualify under the definition of the Jones Act.

For the purposes of distinguishing a vessel, it’s important to note that you may be injured on a vessel that doesn’t qualify - i.e. a fixed platform or even on a dock - as long as you spend at least 30% of your time working onboard a vessel that does qualify under the Jones Act. So the injury doesn’t have to occur on a qualifying vessel as long as you meet the criteria for a Jones Act employee.

Because of all of the complexities and nuance of Jones Act and general maritime law, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced maritime lawyer to discuss your rights.

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