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Jones Act Vessel

Prior to 1920, if a seaman was injured while on board any type of watercraft, they and their family were not entitled to receive compensation for their resulting medical expenses. Unfortunately during this time, the seaman was typically the sole earner of the family. Any injury to the seaman often had a crippling effect on the family. The passage of the Jones Act in 1920 allowed a seaman to recover compensation against his employer after sustaining injuries in an accident. However, the Supreme Court has interpreted various definitions within the Jones Act in the years since to fully define who is covered by the act.

What is a “Vessel”

To qualify for Jones Act recovery, a person must be actively employed on a vessel. “Vessel” is a term of art and has been expanded on over the past hundred years. The term vessel directly impacts the ability of many seaman to bring claims under the Jones Act. If a person is injured while onboard a watercraft that does not meet the standard definitions of “Vessel,” the individual will not be considered a seaman and therefore is not entitled to recovery.

Most recently, the Supreme Court held that a dredge met the definition of a vessel under the Jones Act. Offshore oil drilling rigs have also been found to meet the definition of a vessel within the Jones Act. Therefore, the influx of oil and gas workers who now work on offshore rigs are able to bring claims under the Jones Act in specific situations. However, oil and gas workers who work on oil production platforms are not covered by the Jones Act since these are not considered vessels.

Recovery Under the Jones Act

All Jones Act claims focus on the negligence of an employer, which can include many different types of incidents. Seaman are often placed in dangerous situations, with little area to turn to for safety while on the high seas. The Jones Act offers an opportunity for seaman to recover for the expense of any resulting injuries. Injuries sustained while onboard vessels can often be debilitating and can lead to months of no work, leading to months without a salary. Vessel workers are often the sole provider for their families, and the Jones Act therefore offers an avenue to recover.

Jones Act claims can cover the following expenses:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings
  • Pain and suffering

An experienced maritime accident attorney will be able to assist you in calculating the amount of damages you are entitled to receive while filing a Jones Act claim.

The Malley Law Firm | Houston Maritime Law Attorney

If you have been injured while in the course of your employment at sea, do not hesitate to contact the Malley Law Firm. Tony Malley has years of experience in handling a number of Jones Act claims and can assist you in drafting your claim, as well as calculating the amount of damages to include in the claim. Contact our Texas offices today for your initial free consultation.


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