The Jones Act applies to seamen who are injured while working in service to a vessel. However, it does not define who qualifies as a seaman; therefore, it is often difficult for a maritime worker to make the determination about seaman status on his own. When assessing whether a vessel worker qualifies under the definition of "seaman," the court uses a three-part test. The result of the test determines the rights and protection of the worker.
The following are three parts of the seaman status test:
Seamen must be assigned to a vessel active on its own or in a fleet; the vessel cannot be permanently moored; and the vessel must be operating on a navigable waterway. The court will determine what qualifies as a navigable waterway by location of the body of water and its connection to other waterways.
The capacity and duties in which the worker performs must contribute to the function of the vessel, the accomplishment of its mission, or operation or welfare of the vessel in terms of maintenance during its movement or anchorage for future trips. Courts examine the injured worker's duties in relation to the vessel's operation. Deckhands and engineers, for example, meet this definition of the seaman status test.
A significant amount of the worker's time must be spent aboard a vessel, performing duties that contribute to or are connected to the vessel. For example, a dockside welder who occasionally goes out to barges might not qualify as a seaman because his primary duties take place on land and his presence on the vessel is transient. Seaman status does not require that 100% of the worker's time be spent on a vessel, but it must be more than an occasional occurrence and must be considered "continuous attachment."
Determining whether you qualify to receive benefits under the Jones Act is an important part of handling your offshore injury claim. If you would like to learn more about this subject, we welcome you to review the information on this site or to call our law offices at (888) 346-5024 for a free and confidential review of your case. Our experience with maritime law and our commitment to the full protection of our clients' rights has enabled Arnold & Itkin LLP to recover billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. Call today to see how we can help you recover the money you deserve. Now is the time to learn more about the Jones Act and your legal rights.
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