If I Am An Offshore Worker, Does The Jones Act Apply To Me?
The Jones Act allows an injured seaman to bring a negligence lawsuit against his employer. Therefore, you must be deemed a seaman or seawoman to qualify under the Jones Act. To determine if an individual employee is a seaman and therefore entitled to the protections of the Jones Act, the Supreme Court has established a two-pronged test. The first prong is an analysis of the employee’s duties and the second is determining whether that employee has a “substantial connection” to a vessel.
That sounds like lot of legal jargon. Listen, Am I a “seaman” (or “seawoman”) or not? Do I work on board a “vessel” as defined by the Jones Act?
Below is a non-exhaustive list of vessels that have been determined to be vessels under the Jones Act.
- Commercial fishing vessels
- Offshore oil platform service boats
- Offshore supply vessels
- Oceangoing ships
- Oil rigs
- Pile drivers
- Tension leg platforms
- Other types of maritime craft
- Wing in Ground
In general, those employees who work board oil production platforms are excluded from coverage under the Jones Act. Oil Production platforms by their very nature are fixed to the seabed and do not qualify as vessels “in navigation” – a Jones Act threshold requirement. Such workers may be able to claim compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
An offshore worker may consider themselves a “seaman” who is working onboard a “vessel”, but it’s important to note that there are specific requirements that must be met to qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act. As ancient as maritime law is, there continues to be litigation over the legal definition of a vessel. If you or someone you now has been hurt working offshore or on a watercraft that you believe could be considered a vessel, call our office and let us investigate to determine whether the Jones Act applies to your unique situation.
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