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Do I qualify as a seaman?


Two of the most commonly used terms when determining the laws that apply to your maritime injury claim are “navigable waters” and “seaman.” These are terms of classification for a maritime worker to know when seeking rights and protections under Maritime law or Jones Act law.

The term “navigable waters” applies to both laws, and it means any body of water that can be navigated. This includes the obvious bodies like oceans and rivers but also can apply to inland lakes and canal systems. Maritime Law provides protection to a worker who works on or near a body of navigable water, which can range from dock workers to onboard mechanics.

Sailors pulling rope on boat

When applying Jones Act law to your maritime injury claim, you need to determine if you qualify as a “seaman” or not. The laws define a seaman as a worker who spends the majority of his or her employment on a moving vessel in navigable waters, such as an oil tanker or commercial fishing boat. The Jones Act would most likely not apply to workers on a fixed offshore platform or at a marina.

How is the term seaman defined under the Jones Act?

The term seaman, defined under the Jones Law, is an employee who spends a significant amount of his or her working hours on navigable waters. When you have been injured working as a seaman, you may be able to pursue compensation through a Jones Act claim. Attorney Timothy Young at the Young Firm based in New Orleans is capable of helping seamen fight for their legal rights to receive the compensation they need and deserve.

What is a seaman?

In order to pursue compensation under the Jones Act, you must meet the requirements of a seaman:

  • must be employed or assigned to a vessel in navigable waters;
  • must be employed or assigned to a vessel in navigation; and
  • must spend 30% or more of your time working on a vessel.

Types of Offshore Liftboats that Fall Under the Jones Act

You should know that the term “vessel” is not necessarily a ship of some kind. The term vessel also refers to offshore liftboats: 

  • jack-up rigs;
  • semi-submersible rigs; and
  • drillships. 

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