No one wants to get injured while they are on the job. Work-related injuries can be especially challenging when they occur in a maritime setting. There are a couple of ways that an injured worker can seek financial compensation when a maritime injury occurs. A claim can be filed under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act or under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is specifically designed to offer protection for seamen who are injured in the course of duty. Proving that you are entitled to Jones Act protection will require that you establish some important facts.
Were you on a vessel?
In order to file a claim under the Jones Act, you must prove that you were on a vessel when your injury occurred. This might seem like a straightforward determination, but there are some gray areas that will need to be argued in court.
Something can be classified as a vessel if it is capable of transporting equipment or persons over water. This means that even if you are injured on a barge while that barge is permanently anchored and tasked with constructing a dock, you are classified as a seaman and entitled to Jones Act protection.
Were you contributing to the mission of the vessel?
Once you have established that you were on a vessel when you sustained an injury, you will need to show that you were contributing to the mission of the vessel at the time. It's not enough to merely be on a boat, barge, or other vessel when injured; you need to be playing an active role in helping to keep the vessel going.
Without contributing to the primary mission of the vessel, whether that is offloading fish at the docks or participating in construction activities on a barge, you will not be able to claim Jones Act protection in your personal injury case.
Do you have a substantial connection to the vessel?
A court will also look at your connection to the vessel when making a determination as to whether or not you can receive Jones Act protection. The connection must be a substantial one in order to access Jones Act benefits.
This means that you and your attorney must be able to show that you have been employed on the vessel for a significant amount of time, or that you have been engaged in maritime-related work as a seaman for a number of years if you are newly employed by the vessel on which your injury occurred. For more information, contact a company like Eduardo J. Hernandez, LLC.