'Seamen' Defined Under Maritime Law

Although there are many individuals who work in various positions across the maritime industry along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville all the way up to Beaumont and Port Arthur, not every worker meets the requirements to be a seaman with offices in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Galveston, Victoria, Rockport, Corpus and the Valley we are here to help. Seamen are a specific type of worker in the maritime industry who have a specific, employment-related connection to a ship or vessel. This connection generally means and requires that the seaman contribute to the overall function of the ship and to the furtherance of its specific mission. However, this does not require the worker to have obtained captain level status or to navigate the ship, it is enough that the seaman is actively participating in the ship’s work.

Courts in Texas and across the United States have granted seaman status to individuals working in many different, non-traditional positions aboard ships. Some examples of these non-traditional workers can even include bartenders, servers, and chefs on cruise ships or even casino workers on entertainment barges. In all of these situations the individuals are engaging in work of the particular ship and are assisting in furthering the ship’s mission. This gives the individual seaman the necessary employment-related connection to that particular ship and entitles him or her to recover benefits under maritime law. Courts have also generally required that maritime workers spend at least 30% of their time aboard a ship in navigation in order to be classified as a seaman.

Courts have ruled, however, that workers who stationed on certain maritime facilities, though they are stationed out on the water, do not grant the workers the necessary connection to be classified as a seaman. A very common example of such maritime facilities are oil production and drilling platforms positioned out in the Gulf of Mexico. A federal district judge from Beaumont confirmed in Moore v. Bis Salamis Inc. that a worker who was injured on the “Thunder Horse” platform out in the Gulf of Mexico was not a seaman. The judge explained that a seaman must have a connection to ship, and the platform did not fall under the definition of a ship.

Determining whether a worker in the maritime industry is a seaman under the law is a very fact intensive analysis. If you have questions about whether you are classified as a seaman, or if you have recently been injured on a ship and are curious about what your legal rights are, our Jones Act and maritime attorneys can help you navigate these issues. Please feel free to inquire with our team further at 1.800.862.1260 or email.

If you or a loved one was injured anywhere on The Gulf Coast, Call our Law Firm with offices in Beaumont, Galveston, Houston, Victoria, Rockport, Corpus Christi, the Valley and San Antonio we are here to help…

Visits with the Attorney are by appointment only. Main office San Antonio, Texas.

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