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What Is a Jones Act Vessel?

Jones Act Vessel Status Explained

Jones Act vessel status may seem simple to determine, but it has been a source of controversy in the courts.

Conventionally, the following are easily distinguishable as "vessels":

  • Cargo Ships
  • Barges
  • Tugboats
  • Cruise Ships

However, as the maritime industry has changed, the definition of a vessel has expanded to include special purpose vessels such as jack-up and semi-submersible rigs, mobile offshore drilling units, dredges, and even pontoon rafts.

In a 2005 Supreme Court decision, a new definition of a vessel emerged:

"The word 'vessel' includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water."

Under the Supreme Court's definition, the lower courts have reconsidered the guidelines used to find vessel status for the Jones Act. Several courts previously ruled that unpowered floating structures were not Jones Act vessels, but the 2005 Supreme Court decision changed the rules so that it was no longer required that a vessel be self-propelled. Under the new rules, even a floating dormitory is a Jones Act vessel.

Get Help from a Skilled Maritime Injury Lawyer

Have you been injured while working offshore? If so, and you have reason to believe that you may be covered by the Jones Act, you should not hesitate to get the help of an accomplished maritime lawyer from Arnold & Itkin. We have been successful in recovering billions of dollars, and we can help you in the pursuit of full and fair compensation. Give us a call today if you would like to learn more about whether or not your vessel qualifies under the Jones Act!

Contact a Jones Act attorney at our firm today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help.

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