Who Qualifies as a Jones Act Seaman?

Maritime works who seek to file a Jones Act Claim must meet the definition of a Jones Act Seaman. Any person who is employed at sea are considered seamen, but in order to file a Jones Act claim against an employer the seamen must also meet other more specific requirements. In fact, there are 3 main criteria that a seamen must meet to be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.

  1. Seamen must be assigned to one vessel or fleet of vessels under the same ownership.
    In order to be considered a Jones Act Seaman, a person cannot be a freelancer, or independent contractor who works for several different maritime companies. This is because a Jones act requires the seamen to prove a single professional relationship with the vessel or vessels they were working aboard.

  2. The Vessel has to be considered in Navigation.
    Not every vessel in the water is considered in navigation. There are many vessels that are permanently moored at a dock like Casino Boats and other barges. Also, the vessel cannot utilize land based utilities to be considered an eligible vessel for the Jones Act because they are not considered “in navigation.” It is important to note that navigable waters do not only include oceans. River vessels and boats/ships that travel on inland waterways can qualify as Jones act vessels. If the vessel qualifies as a Jones Act vessel, then the workers aboard may be able to qualify as Jones Act Seamen.

  3. A jones Act seaman will be able to prove a significant connection with the vessel.
    Of course, this does not mean that a seaman must spend every minute of the day on the vessel but that they must spend a large portion of the day contributing to the livelihood or functionality of the vessel. Generally, a seaman who spends more than a third of their time working on a Jones Act vessel can qualify as a Jones Act Seaman.

It can be difficult to identify a Jones Act seaman because the act did not specifically define what occupations a seaman must have to qualify as a Jones Act seaman. Over time and over many cases, the occupations of Jones Act Seaman have included all types of maritime employment from tugboat operators to card dealers on Casino Vessels. A seaman does not need to be directly related to operation and navigation of the vehicle, but can be workers of all types including wait staff and entertainers.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED WHILE WORKING ON A MARITIME VESSEL, AND AS A RESULT OF A NEGLIGANT EMPLOYER OR AN UNSAFE WORKPLACE, CONTACT THE TEAM OF CARABIN SHAW AT 1.800.862.1260 DAY OR NIGHT, 7 DAYS A WEEK FOR YOUR FREE CONSULTATION.

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