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The Turley Law Firm P.C.

What To Do If You Have A Jones Act Injury

Find answers to your questions about the Jones Act, DBA, California workers’ compensation, or employment law. If you have more questions, contact us.

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  • How is a vessel defined under Jones Act law?

    Any American Owned Watercraft That Can be Used to Transport Goods or Passengers can be Considered a Jones Act Vessel.

    The Jones Act offers legal protection for maritime workers who are injured while in service to a Jones Act vessel. Among the most important of Jones Act protections is the right to directly sue an employer when injuries are caused by the employer’s negligence. Other workers do not have this right.

    To qualify as a Jones Act vessel, a vessel must be owned by an American individual or company.  For a maritime worker to be considered a Jones Act seaman, he must be the master or a member of a Jones Act vessel’s crew. How do you know if you work on a Jones Act vessel?

    There are many ways to work on the water. While it is easy to recognize a cruise ship or barge as being a vessel, it is harder to decide if an offshore drilling rig or floating dormitory meets that definition.   

    In 2005, the Supreme Court (Stewart v. Dutra Construction) determined that under the Jones Act, the definition of vessel may include “every description of Watercraft or other artificial contrivance used or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.”  This means that any watercraft that can be used to transport goods or passengers can be considered a Jones Act Vessel.

    Under this definition, it is easy to recognize cargo ships, supply boats, tankers, freighters, fishing boats, ferries, cruise ships, tugboats, and barges as vessels. But offshore drilling units, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, dredges, docks, and floating work platforms may also be considered vessels under some circumstances.

    The definition of a Jones Act vessel can be a deciding factor in determining the outcome of a Jones Act injury case. If you have any questions about whether you qualify for Jones Act protection, contact a California maritime lawyer.



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    Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.

  • What is meant by the term “navigable waters” when discussing Jones Act Law?


    The Jones Act covers any maritime worker or employee who spends more than 30 percent of his time in the service of a Jones Act vessel on a navigable waterway. In the past, federal courts have interpreted the term “navigable waterways” to include almost any large body of water. The Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are considered navigable waterways, but so are California’s harbors, rivers and inland lakes.  


    Here is a list of navigable bodies of water in California:  

    • Pacific Ocean
    • San Francisco Bay
    • San Pedro Bay
    • Bodega Bay
    • Half Moon Bay
    • San Pablo Bay
    • Suisun Bay
    • Port of San Diego
    • Port of Los Angeles
    • Port of San Francisco
    • Port of Oakland
    • Port Hueneme
    • Port of Stockton
    • Port San Luis
    • Port of Redwood City
    • Port of Richmond
    • Port of West Sacramento
    • Port of Long Beach
    • Stockton Channel
    • Humboldt Bay Harbor
    • Oceanside Harbor
    • Newport Harbor
    • Santa Barbara Harbor
    • Morro Bay Harbor
    • Channel Islands Harbor
    • Dana Point Harbor
    • Avalon Harbor
    • Pillar Point Harbor
    • Santa Cruz Harbor
    • Moss Landing Harbor
    • Crescent City Harbor
    • Clipper Yacht Harbor
    • Marina del Rey Harbor
    • Ventura Harbor
    • Noyo Harbor
    • Wilmington Harbor
    • Santa Cruz
    • Alcatraz Wharf
    • Berkeley Marina
    • Sausalito Marina
    • Vallejo Marina
    • Porto Bodega Marina
    • Point Area Cove
    • Sacramento River
    • San Joaquin River
    • Colorado River
    • Klamath River
    • Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
    • Lake Tahoe
    • Mono Lake
    • Clear Lake
    • Lake Shasta
    • Lake Almanlor
    • Lake Havasu
    • Lake Oroville
    • Trinity Lake
    • San Luis Reservoir

    Working on the water is very dangerous. Seamen face many of the same risks as land based workers: overexertion, repetitive motion injuries, slip-and-fall accidents, and dangers from falling objects. They also face unique risks. The Jones Act is a federal law that protects those who work on the water if they are injured while working. Unlike workers’ compensation, the Jones Act allows maritime workers to take action against negligent employers.

    If you have been injured while working on a passenger ship, cargo ship, oil tanker, tugboat, oil rig, fishing boat, barge, ferry, tour boat, or any other vessel that regularly travels the waters of California, you may be covered under Jones Act Law.  Find out more about your rights; contact the California Jones Act attorneys at The Turley Law Firm, PC to schedule a free consultation.


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