Qualifying for Jones Act Benefits
Due to the exceptionally harsh conditions of maritime work, seamen are afforded legal protection for work-related injuries under the Jones Act. However, not everyone qualifies for protection under the act and, in some cases, it can be difficult to determine who is and who is not a seaman.
Can the Jones Care Act Help You?
Generally, there are two elements that are considered when legally defining the term “seaman.” Such an individual must:
- Contribute to the function of a vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission
- Have an attachment to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature
In addition to qualifying as a seaman, you must also prove that the vessel you were injured on is used “as an instrument of commerce and transportation on navigable waters,” even if it was not at sea at the time of the accident. While this is relatively easy to demonstrate for someone who works, for example, on a cargo ship, it is nearly impossible to demonstrate for someone who works on an offshore drilling rig.
Additionally, an injured seaman must be able to prove that the owner, captain, or crew was negligent and that this negligence caused the accident.
Examples of accidents that could qualify under the Jones Care Act include those caused by:
- Equipment breakage
- Unsafe work methods
- Grease or oil on the deck
- Negligence of your co-workers
- Improper training of a seaman or of the crew in general
- Improperly maintained equipment
- The employer’s failure to provide crew members with the proper equipment for them to safely do their work
Typically, qualified seamen are eligible to receive compensation for lost earnings and lost earning capacity, pain, suffering, mental anguish, and current and future medical treatments. In many cases, an attorney can help recover these expenses by advising maritime workers on best practices to avoid mistakes and build the strongest cases.
If you work offshore and have suffered an injury while on the job, contact an attorney right away to find out how you can protect your claim. To learn more, contact Houston Jones Act attorney Steve Lee.
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