Who and what is covered by the Jones Act?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Commercial Seamen |

The maritime industry, like any other industry, has its share of occupational risks and hazards. If you or someone you love is hurt while working on a barge, boat or drilling rig, you may be entitled to compensation through the Jones Act

Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act is a federal statute that regulates maritime activities within the U.S. territory. This statute also gives seamen who work in these vessels certain rights, like the right to seek compensation following an injury or death. To qualify for the Jones Act, however, you must meet certain specific requirements. 

Qualifying for damages under the Jones Act

The Jones Act takes several factors into account when defining what is considered a vessel and, thus, compensable injuries. Here are the specifics that you must meet to qualify for compensation:

  • The injury or death must have happened in a service vessel
  • The vessel must have been built and primarily owned in the U.S. and registered as a U.S.-flagged vessel
  • The vessel must be “in navigation.” This means that the vessel must be floating in navigable waters like rivers, inland lakes and oceans or be capable of moving. 

The vessel does not have to be in motion at the time of the injury to qualify for compensation. Thus, if you are injured on a ship that is in drydock, you may be eligible for compensation. 

So who qualifies as a seaman per the Jones Act?

To be considered a maritime worker or a “seaman,” you must be a crew in a service vessel performing tasks essential to the vessel’s designated functions. Additionally, you must spend at least 30 percent of your time with the vessel or a fleet of vessels owned by your employer. 

Protecting your rights

From large, heavy loads to difficult conditions and seaworthiness, maritime workers face a myriad of risks during the course of their work. Learning how the Jones Act works can help you pursue compensation if you are hurt while working in a vessel.