Am I covered under the Jones Act?

March 17, 2011 @ 02:41 PM -- by


As a Corpus Christi Jones Act lawyer, I am often asked about how a person qualifies as a Jones Act seaman.  The Jones Act was enacted by Congress to provide protection to persons who are members of the crew of a ship or vessel. The Jones Act applies to inland river workers and offshore crew members who work on jack-ups, semi-submersibles, barges, drill ships, tugs and towboats, crew boats, dredges, floating cranes, tankers, cargo ships, fishing vessels, shrimp boats, trawlers, chemical ships, research vessels, construction barges, diving vessels, cruise ships, recreational boats, and other floating or movable vessels.

Only a "seaman" can recover under the Jones Act. A seaman must be a member of the crew of a vessel. There are three general requirements for seaman status: (1) the person has an employment connection to the vessel that is substantial both in terms of duration and its nature; and (2) the person’s employment contributes to the work of the vessel; (3) the vessel must be engaged as an instrument of commerce and transportation on navigable waters.

For example, people who serve on freighters, tugboats, crew boats, tankers, jack-up rigs, semi-submersibles, supply boats, lay barges, barges, fishing boats, shrimp boats and crew boats who are members of the crew are considered to be seamen under the Jones Act. Longshoremen, pilots, and those who work on fixed platforms are not normally classified as seamen, but may have other maritime remedies available to them.


A court does not evaluate the worker's connection to a vessel or a fleet at just the moment of injury, but instead must evaluate a seaman's relationship to a vessel or a fleet as if that seaman were to complete the mission uninjured. In other words, there is a distinction between land based workers and seamen. For example, a land based worker who happens to get injured aboard a ship will not be eligible for Jones Act protection, whereas a seaman who happens to be injured on land while the boat is docked will not lose his Jones Act protection.

Contact Corpus Christi Jones Act lawyer Scott Nelson if you or a loved one needs assistance with a Jones Act case.