Can I File a Jones Act Claim Against the Ship Owner?
Federal law recognizes the inherent danger of working at sea and the risk of on-the-job injuries in the maritime industry. To keep a workforce of trained seamen, the law gives maritime workers valuable legal rights, including the right to sue a ship owner for negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel. This act is more specific than the common maritime law.
Even if you are outside of the U.S., if you work for an American company on an American vessel, you could be entitled to Jones Act rights as long as you carry the title of "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 under the law, as can many workers on offshore oil rigs.
If you are an offshore worker and were hurt on a vessel, and it is believed that negligence on behalf of the vessel's owner contributed in any way to your accident, then you are justified in filing a Jones Act claim. If you can obtain a fair settlement in a Jones Act case, this means that your lost wages will likely be compensated for, as well as things such as pain, medical care, and cost of living during the time of recovery.