Understanding Jones Act eligibility

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2021 | Admiralty & Maritime Law

Workers who experience injuries while working on a ship may qualify for legal compensation under the Jones Act. This federal law protects many offshore and inland waterway employees.

Review the qualifications you must meet to file this type of lawsuit against your employer.

Eligibility requirements

The Jones Act applies to a wide range of seafaring vessels, including but not limited to:

  • Luxury cruise ships
  • Recreation boats, such as tour boats
  • Diving boats
  • Engine-operated platforms
  • Research and fishing boats
  • chemical vessels
  • Tanker and cargo vessels
  • Aquatic cranes
  • Submarines and other submersible rigs
  • Push boats
  • Tugboats
  • Barges

You must spend at least 30% of your work time at sea on a covered vessel to receive Jones Act protection. This designation includes rivers, oceans and lakes. The ship does not have to be moving at that time, as long as it is on and able to navigate the waters in question.

Employer liability

You must also prove that your employer acted negligently and that these actions contributed to your injury. Examples include violating Coast Guard laws, failing to train employees appropriately, failing to maintain safe work conditions, giving workers unsafe instructions, failing to provide safety equipment in good condition and lacking enough workers to complete the task safely. You may also provide proof that you worked on an unseaworthy vessel.

If you or a loved one has suffered any of these injuries and think you may qualify for Jones Act compensation, you have only one year to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you do not qualify, you must seek coverage for medical bills and other costs under your employer’s workers’ compensation plan.