You have likely heard about the Jones Act if you work near the water. It is a federal law that was created to protect seamen who are injured in accidents that occur offshore during work. In a manner of speaking, it is a type of workers’ compensation for maritime employees. However, unlike traditional workers’ compensation laws, it has fewer limitations and only covers employees who are working on a vessel on a navigable waterway.
Of course, you know that navigable waters include the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, but there are significantly more navigable waterways in the U.S. The Supreme Court has determined that any maritime worker who spends 30% or more of his or her time in the service of a vessel on navigable water will qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act.
What Exactly are Navigable Waters?
According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a navigable body of water is defined as any water that is subject to the ebb and flow of the time and/or is presently used, or has been used, or may be used to transport foreign or interstate commerce. This means that any body of water that is considered part of the United States and is used for commercial or recreational purposes may be considered navigable waters. These may include rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands, marshes, mudflats, man-made or artificial bodies of water, channels, ports, coastal waters, and inlets.
Could the Definition of Navigable Waters Change?
After a body of water has been classified as navigable waters, it will never lose that status. The status is applied to the entire body of water and will not be changed even if there are manmade or natural events that alter the body of water. For example, although the Mississippi River is classified as navigable water, due to changes in the environment and reduced water levels, parts of it are no longer navigable. Even though these parts of the river are not accessible, it doesn’t change the navigable water status of the river. The status still applies to the entire river and not just sections of it.
Who is Responsible for Injuries in Navigable Waters?
There are a variety of laws that apply to navigable waters in the United States. Many of these acts and laws require the injured person or his or her family to file a claim for any eligible damages within a certain time period. These time limits may vary, and it is recommended that you seek guidance from an experienced maritime attorney as quickly as possible. Failure to meet these deadlines may result in your inability to receive damages for your claim. Your attorney will also be able to determine which parties may be held responsible for your damages.
Contact an Experienced Texas Maritime Law Attorney Today
If you have been injured in an accident on or near navigable waters while working, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Kolodny Law Firm will review your situation and help determine what your legal options may be. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us ensure that your rights are protected.