The Jones Act Explained
Working on a vessel is inherently risky and often leads to serious accidents. The Jones Act is intended to protect the rights of seamen and provide compensation in the event that they’re injured on the job.
Here’s what you need to know:
Are You a Seaman?
To receive compensation under the Jones Act, you must be a seaman. A seaman is defined as anyone who is “a master or member of a crew of any vessel.” Furthermore, to be considered a member of a crew, you must contribute to the vessel’s function and spend no less than 30 percent of your employment hours on a vessel or a number of vessels.
Who Is Covered?
Typically, the Jones Act covers:
- Carpenters & Metalworkers
- Cabin & Kitchen Workers
- Deck Hands
- Waiters & Bartenders
- Oil Rig Workers
These workers tend to be employed on vessels including but not limited to:
- Drill Ships
- Tug Boats
- Floating Cranes
- Cruise Ships
- Fishing Vessels
- Construction Barges
- Cargo Ships
- Diving Vessels
- Recreational Boats
- Drilling Rigs
Do You Have to Prove Negligence?
Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers are required to show that their employer’s negligence caused their injuries in order to recover compensation. While you do have to prove negligence when filing a Jones Act claim, maritime employers owe their employees an extremely high duty of care and are, therefore, responsible for ensuring the workplace environment is safe.
Examples of employer negligence can include but are not limited to:
- Inadequate training
- Demanding long work hours
- Missing or faulty safety equipment
- Enforcing speed over safety
- Defective equipment
- Negligence by another crew member
- Poor staffing practices
- Ignoring safety protocols
- Navigational mistakes
If you work aboard a vessel and were injured as a part of your employment duties, you may be entitled to significant compensation under the Jones Act.
Do You Have to Be Injured While at Sea?
The Jones Act covers seamen who have suffered injuries associated with their employment. However, keep in mind that your injury doesn’t have to occur while the vessel is at sea to be considered a “maritime injury.”
As long as you are a seaman and you can demonstrate that your injury was a result of your employer’s negligence, you should be covered under the Jones Act, regardless of where the injury took place.
Examples may include:
- On docks and wharves
- Transportation to and from the vessel
- At a training facility
- On a vessel owned by another employer
- And, of course, on a vessel owned by your employer