The Vessel Must be Capable of Moving, Afloat, In Operation and On Navigable Waters
Under the Jones Act, seamen are granted the right to collect injury payments for work-related accidents if they spend the majority of their time working on vessels that are “in navigation.” Nearly any kind of ship or boat can be considered “in navigation” as long as it is:
- Capable of moving. While a vessel does not have to be moving to meet the legal definition of “in navigation,” it must at least be capable of moving under its own power. For instance, vessels that are tied up at a dock can be considered “in navigation,” but oil drilling platforms (that are fixed to the seabed) and ships in a dry dock are not.
- Afloat. The simplest definition of a float is on the water. Many floating vessels (such as restaurants and entertainment venues on barges) are afloat, even though they rarely move.
- In operation. A vessel that is sailing under its own power in open water may not be considered “in navigation” if it is not properly commissioned (for example, a ship that is sailed before commissioning to ensure that it is seaworthy).
- On navigable waters. Oceans, rivers, and lakes may qualify as "navigable waters" if the waterway is capable of being traversed for commercial use. A landlocked body of water may be considered navigable by the legal definition if the lake is connected to another country or state via a river and is commonly sailed for commercial purposes.
Your Right to Jones Act Payment Depends on Your Seaman Status
The vessel you are injured on matters less in your case than whether you enjoy Jones Act seaman status. Simply put, your seaman status travels with you—and if you are normally assigned to a navigable vessel but are injured on a dock, a fixed platform, or even dry land, your injury should be covered by your employer. Feel free to use our website to learn more about filing a Jones Act claim to get medical coverage and lost wages.
My Best Advice
Many times I have witnessed Jones Act Cases Be thrown out before it has even started. Why? Because the claimant was not honest or not truthful. And a lot of times, those people do not understand why their case was dismissed.
I have to be frank here. You have to be honest on everything about your case. You need to make sure that all the good and bad facts are brought to the table from the beginning. If you do not, then you will lose. Sometimes the truth hurts, but remember it is the truth that sets you free.
My Next Best Advice
If you want to win your Jones Act Case, you need to make sure to take the proper steps. I have been handling Jones Act Cases since the 1980's. I have seen and learned a lot.
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