Are you wondering whether the Jones Act applies to you? Relief under the Jones Act is only available to sailors who are injured on vessels operating on navigable waters. Thus, the definition of what constitutes a vessel under this law is very important. The Jones Act doesn’t include a detailed definition of vessels that qualify under this act. Instead, the definition of what constitutes a Jones Act vessel has emerged from hundreds of federal cases that have considered the matter over the last century.
If you are a maritime worker wondering if your injury qualifies for benefits under the Jones Act, call a Houston Jones Act attorney from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500 for a free consultation regarding your case.
Most Ships and Boats Are Potentially Jones Act Vessels
A general overview of the Jones Act shows that any of the following vessels or floating structures qualify under the act, so long as they operate in navigable waters:
- Cargo ships
- Cruise liners
- Drilling ships
- Tug boats
- Commercial fishing boats
- Oil platform supply and service vessels
In fact, according to the 1966 case of Producers Drilling Company v. Gray, just about any structure that is capable of floating on navigable waters may potentially be a vessel under the Jones Act. What matters most is not the type, shape, or size of the vessel, but where and how it was being used at the time of a seaman’s alleged injury. Buna v. Pacific Far East Line, Inc. (1977) holds that any floating structure whose purpose is reasonably related to the transportation of cargo, equipment, or passengers could be a vessel.
The Most Important Factor Is Whether the Vessel Operates in Navigable Waters
First of all, what are navigable waters? Generally speaking. navigable waters are any body of water that are (or could be) used for international or interstate commerce. Thus, the shorelines of the oceans, their ports, and connecting canals are all navigable waters. Any river or lake that connects two states or that leads to the ocean, are considered to be navigable.
How Do Courts Determine if a Ship Is Operating on Navigable Waters?
To determine if a ship operates on navigable waters, courts look at whether the vessel’s purpose is for commercial or transport activities. Consider the following examples of ships that are covered by the Jones Act:
- Docked or anchored vessels- The vessel will fall under the Jones Act as long as the vessel is ready for another voyage.
- Vessels in dry dock- If the dry dock repairs are being undertaken to ready the vessel for another voyage, then the ship may be considered in navigation.
- Vessels with sufficient crew- Another consideration is the proportion of crew on the vessel. Even if some of the crew is on vacation, as long as there are enough men to operate the ship, the Jones Act may still apply.
The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Can Help
If you’ve been injured on a ship or other floating structure, the Jones Act may or may not apply to your case. If you have any doubts about the applicability of the Jones Act to your situation, you should contact the maritime accident lawyers of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. With a proven track record of getting compensation for injured seamen, we can explain the law to you and guide your case to a successful resolution.
Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for your free case consultation.