Working offshore takes a specific type of person. There is a level of toughness necessary to live such a rigorous and dangerous lifestyle. Crew members that work at sea are susceptible to a wide array of injuries that can make it difficult to continue working or potentially damage their quality of life.
Those who leave themselves susceptible to the dangers of working at sea receive special legal protections. You must check certain boxes to qualify as a seaman, but these protections can help enhance the quality of life of someone injured while working at sea.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a federal law that went into effect in 1920. It affords special injury protections for those who work primarily at sea. It is like workers’ compensation in that the goal is to provide compensation for injuries suffered at work. However, the Jones Act offers special benefits that can be significantly greater in value.
Maritime workers can receive substantial injury settlements. You can also have your medical and living expenses covered by your employer under maintenance and cure rulings. This means that your employer will pay your expenses until you are able to work again. Additionally, if the poor condition of a vessel leads to an injury, you can submit an additional unseaworthiness claim to receive greater compensation.
Simply, the Jones Act is a special law created with the specific duty of protecting seamen.
Workers’ compensation includes most workers. The Jones Act only includes special workers known as seamen. Naturally, a seaman is a worker who spends the majority of his or her time working at sea. In order to qualify as a seaman, workers must meet special conditions:
- Roughly 30% of time spent supporting the vessel’s purpose
- Have a substantial connection to the vessel
- Contribute to the functioning of the vessel
The definition of a seaman is fairly broad. Courts tend to find workers that meet these conditions eligible under the Jones Act. Simply, employees who are directly involved in carrying out the purpose of a vessel are likely to be found eligible. Seamen positions typically include captains, engineers, deckhands, laborers and oilers.
Working at sea can be extremely dangerous and deserves special protection. If you believe you qualify for injury compensation under the Jones Act, make sure to contact an experienced attorney to help you with your claim.