Am I Covered Under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act applies to seamen who are working in service to a vessel in navigation.
This does not mean that the vessel must be moving, it simply means the vessel must be in active operation. To qualify as a Jones Act seaman, an employee must have a substantial connection to a single vessel or fleet of vessels. The Jones Act requires that the injured seaman prove that negligence of the vessel owner, master, crew member, employer, or an unsafe condition caused or contributed to his or her injury.
To be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, you need to qualify as a "seaman."
Generally speaking, this means you must have been assigned to a vessel or fleet in operation on a navigable waterway, and your duties must have contributed to the vessel's function. A seaman must spend at least 30% of his or her working service on the vessel. For instance, deckhands, engineers, cooks, and housekeeping stewards can all qualify as seamen, as can many workers on offshore oil rigs. If you are an offshore worker and are injured on the job, then you can be covered under the Jones Act if employer negligence is proven. If you are not on a vessel at least 30% of your work hours, but you were in an adjacent field, another maritime law may apply to you.
Can the Jones Act Cover Dockside Workers' Injuries?
The Jones Act can provide financial relief if you had a "substantial connection" to the ship you were working on. In other words, you need to have spent a significant amount of time on the vessel and contributed to the functioning of the vessel. Typically, if you spent at least 30% of your working time on the vessel, then you qualify and are entitled to Jones Act rights. If your duties primarily were carried out on land, and you were on the ship only briefly during the course of your work, the Jones Act likely won't provide relief. However, dockworkers, ship repairers, shipbuilders, and harbor construction workers may have other legal options available to them, such as the remedies offered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA).
This act provides protection for employment related injuries of sea workers or workers of "adjoining areas." Those covered under LHWCA are employees who work on navigable waters of the United States but also those who work in adjoining areas. These adjoining areas include loading, unloading, repairing, and building of said vessels. There is also provision for families under this act if an adjoining worker is killed on the job. Those employees covered under the act receive a compensation rate of 66 2/3% of their average weekly wages.
Although as a dockside worker you would not be covered under the Jones Act, unless of course you spent at least 30% of your time on the vessel, there is still provision for compensation after a work-related injury. If there is still doubt as to whether you are covered under some time of maritime law, it is best to consult a trusted attorney.
If you can obtain a settlement in a Jones Act case, this means your lost wages will likely be covered. You may also be entitled to compensation for pain, medical care, and cost of living during recovery. Call us now at (888) 493-1629 for help.