Determining Seaman Status Under the Jones Act
Working on a vessel poses risks that are unique to the maritime industry. Offshore workers frequently have to battle unpredictable weather, rough seas, slippery decks and surfaces and heavy machinery. It is no wonder that injuries resulting from offshore work are often serious, requiring extensive medical treatment and recovery. Fortunately, there is legal protection for offshore workers.
A federal law, known as the Jones Act, provides compensation for injured maritime workers, as long as they are considered to be seamen. Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can pursue compensation for injuries that occurred while working offshore. An employer or vessel owner can be held responsible for a seaman’s injuries if negligence was involved or if the vessel was considered to be unseaworthy.
The Jones Act also provides compensation called maintenance and cure, which is supposed to cover medical treatment and living expenses. This compensation is available even if the injuries were not caused by negligence.
To qualify under the Jones Act, a worker must be considered a seaman. Determining seaman status, when it comes to the Jones Act, has to do with three separate requirements. It must be proven that the offshore worker had a “relatively permanent connection to a vessel or identifiable group of vessels” and that “the vessels must be ‘in navigation’,” but it doesn’t mean the vessel has to be moving. The third requirement states that “the injured workers’ duties must contribute to the mission or function of the vessel.”
All three of these requirements are reviewed by courts when determining if a worker was a seaman at the time the injuries occurred. Generally, the worker’s entire employment history is reviewed. If the court determines that the employee was not a seaman, there are other legal remedies available.
If you have been injured offshore, you need to contact an experienced offshore injury attorney to review your case to help you determine if you are eligible to file a Jones Act claim. As an injured seaman, you can pursue compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost income, mental anguish, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and impairment. The total compensation you could receive is substantial.
Contact Attorney Steve Lee today for advice regarding your maritime injury case at (800) 232-3711. The Law Firm of Attorney Steve Lee was established in 1973 and has the experience to help you win your case.