Seeking recovery for a maritime injury can be tricky because there are different laws for different types of maritime workers. How your claim should be handled and the number of damages you are entitled to will largely depend on which law applies to your specific situation and classification.
For instance, if you are a “seaman,” which is a legal term of art, you may get to recover under the Jones Act, which is a federal statute that allows you to pursue certain damages, such as maintenance (a daily rate representing your basic living expenses) and cure (medical treatment until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement), lost wages, lost future earning capacity, future medical care, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Before recovering under the Jones Act, however, we must determine whether you qualify as a seaman.
Preliminary qualifications that must be met before classifying an injured worker as a seaman:
- Were you a crew member of a vessel at the time of your injury?
- Did you spend at least 30% of your time aboard the vessel or a fleet of vessels?
- Did your work contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission?
Recently, the Courts also explored whether the injured worker owed allegiance to the vessel, rather than to a stateside employer, whether the work was sea-based, and whether the worker’s assignment to the vessel was for a limited task. If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you may qualify as a “seaman.” More often than not, maritime workers who work on ships, offshore rigs, barges, tugs, riverboats, and/or ferries, will likely be considered a seaman. But not always, which is why it's important to consult with a knowledgeable maritime attorney about your potential case. We can help you navigate the complexities associated with your classification as a maritime worker, and determine if you qualify as a “seaman” for purposes of pursuing a claim under the Jones Act.