It is not uncommon for people to travel abroad via the sea. Whether you do it as part of a cruise on a vacation, or you are a seafarer (more commonly known as a seaman or member of a working crew), you have certain legal rights. While both seafarers and passengers are protected by maritime and federal laws, seafarers generally have a broader range of protection.
It is important to determine a person’s status when distinguishing between the types of actions and remedies that may be available. Seafarers have special maritime law classifications, called wards of admiralty, because they are more susceptible to illness from exposure to perils, labor exhaustion, special hazards, and change in climate that they are exposed to during work. This status ultimately determines if a worker is able to recover compensation under the Jones Act or not.
How to Determine Seafarer or Passenger Status
Under maritime laws, a person can recover compensation as a seafarer if he or she has a connection to a vessel that is employment related. The vessel must be involved in navigation that is substantial both in duration and nature, regardless of where the injury to the seafarer occurred. Recovery for a passenger is dependent on where the injury took place.
Two elements that must be in place for seaman status are:
- The duties of the worker must contribute to the accomplishment of a mission or the function of a vessel,
- A worker must be connected to a vessel considered to be in navigation or a group of vessels that is substantial in nature and duration.
Based on this, the court may determine that a ship is still in navigation even when it is drydocked, which means that a worker will not lose seafarer status when the vessel is ashore. However, workers who are stationed on land may not be considered seafarers and be prohibited from collecting under the Jones Act.
Qualifying Under the Jones Act
To be able to receive compensation under the Jones Act, a maritime worker must be able to achieve seaman, or seafarer, status. According to the Jones Act, and the interpretation of the court, a seaman is defined as a person who spends a significant amount of his or her time working as a captain or crew member on a vessel that is in navigation. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to determine if a maritime worker is a seaman. An experienced attorney who has experience in maritime law can help you understand how you will be classified if you have been injured at sea.
Contact an Experienced Texas Maritime Law Attorney
The attorneys at Kolodny Law Firm have been specializing in maritime for years. We have assisted many offshore workers and injured seaman, and we can help you, too. We will review your claim and determine what your status is and the best way to go about getting you the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let us handle the paperwork so you can put your focus on recovering.
(image courtesy of Garrett Parker)