Are you covered by the Jones Act?
People injured on Offshore Oil Rigs, Ships, Barges,
Riverboat Casinos, Tug Boats, Shrimp Boats, Fishing Boats, Trawlers,
Tankers, Crew Boats, Ferries, Water Taxis, and all other vessels on the
ocean and all intra-coastal rivers and canals, as well as drivers, divers,
and underwater personnel are typically covered.
What is Maritime Law?
The maritime law known as the Jones Act was passed
by the United States Congress to protect injured seaman who may or may not
be otherwise covered by maritime law. Offshore workers, merchant seamen,
and others often use the term "maritime law" when referring to the Jones
Act. For purposes of this article "maritime law" and "Jones Act are
Maritime law covers legal affairs and dealings between
ship owners, crewmembers, passengers and cargoes on the high seas and
other navigable waters. The U.S. Constitution grants federal judicial
power to all maritime law cases. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the
federal district courts exclusive jurisdiction in maritime law cases and
made the Supreme Court the final arbiter of admiralty law disputes. State
courts are still allowed to hear some admiralty law cases.
Maritime law originated from ancient customs of early
Mediterranean seafaring nations. The earliest maritime law is said to have
influenced the Roman legal system. Because the fundamental dangers of
seafaring have never changed, today's maritime law is a mixture of ancient
rules and new laws. In fact, the time-honored principles of "maintenance
and cure" are still used today.
Who is covered under Maritime Law?
Seamen who are injured on sea going vessels on
navigable waters and offshore oil rigs that can be towed and are not
permanently affixed to the ocean floor are covered under maritime law.
Whether you are a seaman, an officer, a harbor pilot, an oil worker, a
technician, a helicopter pilot, work on a tugboat, casino boat, barge,
ship, supply boat, semi-submersible drilling rig, jack-up drilling rig or
if you become injured on or near the water, you should talk to a maritime
law attorney before making a claim or as soon as possible thereafter.
The term "seaman" is very broad under maritime law. It
was the intention of Congress, in passing laws to protect seamen, to
include all seamen hired to serve on board a vessel. Federal courts have
determined that the term "seaman":
- Extends to all persons employed on a vessel to
assist in the main purpose of the voyage.
- Extends to all persons whose duties are maritime
in character and rendered on vessels engaged in commerce or trade, in
- Includes anyone employed on a vessel to which an
American corporation holds legal title and which another American
corporation operates under demise charter.
- Shall include persons who otherwise might be
deemed not to be a seamen; it includes some that might otherwise be
excluded; it does not take anyone out who would otherwise be there.