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The Jones Act: Who does it cover?

The Jones Act gives coverage to seamen who worked onboard vessels. In other words, employees who work on ships, fishing boards, tugboats, dredges, and barges are recognized under the act. However, to be qualified under the Jones Act, you are required to be permanently connected to the in-navigation vessel, with your work contributing to its mission.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that allows seamen who are injured while on the job to sue their employer for their damages. Under this law, they are entitled to recover compensation for their medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, medical equipment, lost wages, and other damages.

Who is Considered a Seaman?

A seaman is a person who works for a regular, significant amount of time on a vessel, which is generally any type of boat that is in navigation. A seaman can be the captain or a crew member of the vessel. There are certain requirements needed in order to qualify for Jones Act coverage. For instance, the vessel must be in navigation, which includes any type of boat that has to be anything of the following:

• Afloat

• Operating

• Able to move

• On waters that can be navigated

However, it’s interesting to note that the vessel doesn’t necessarily have to be moving in order for someone to be considered a seaman. Instead, it simply means the vessel is capable of moving on its own or being sailed. The term “vessel in navigation” can relate to the boat being docked. However, this also means the boat cannot be on dry land; it has to actually be in the water.

The term “navigable waters” refers to waters such as a lake or river that can be used for interstate or foreign commerce.

Certain things are not considered applicable under the Jones Act. For example, an oil drilling platform does not qualify. It’s able to float but is not actually afloat due to being permanently anchored into the bottom of the sea or ocean.

Another vessel that doesn’t qualify under the Jones Act is a vessel that’s newly built and still undergoing trials in the water to ensure that it’s appropriate for delivery to its owner. While it’s being tested, it isn’t considered as being in navigation. Floating casino barges also don’t qualify.


Role of the Seaman on the Vessel

The Jones Act also requires that the seaman must contribute to the work performed on the vessel. That work must contribute to the mission of the vessel. Obviously, if the seaman is an employee of the vessel, it’s difficult to think that they would not contribute to the vessel’s mission in some way.

What Does the Significant Amount of Time Requirement Mean?

“Significant amount of time” can be complicated for some people. Overall, this means that the seaman must spend at least 30 percent of their time on a vessel while working. However, some people may spend time on a single boat while others may spend time on multiple vessels depending on their job nature. Others may spend a certain period of time on the vessel and another amount of time in an office.

Jones Act is Fault-Based

The Jones Act is a fault-based system, which means if you’re injured while working on the vessel, you have to prove negligence was involved. The General Maritime Law is also in place to protect you as it serves as a supplement of the Jones Act. You can receive compensation in the form of lost wages and maintenance and cure. These are basic medical benefits that cover you in the event that you suffer an injury or illness while working.

Author’s Bio – Michelle Eddy
Michelle Eddy is a staunch consumer advocate, fresh libertarian convert, and proud mother of three. Besides her legal career, she enjoys blogging about topics related to her expertise and life experiences, like parenting, child development, education, and law. In her writings, Michelle places emphasis on helping people to fight for their rights. She also works as a collaborative editor for Laborde Earles Law Firm. Her favorite quote is: “Sir, we are outnumbered 10 to 1″. “Then, it is a fair fight”.