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'Seaman,' 'vessel,' and the Jones Act's legal elements

Louisianans engage in a significant amount of work offshore. These individuals, like their counterparts who work on land, can be subjected to workplace injuries. When an onshore worker suffers an on-the-job injury he will likely qualify for workers' compensation benefits. By accepting these benefits, an injured worker agrees not to file a lawsuit against his employer. Offshore workers, on the other hand, are provided the right to sue their employers when they are injured on a vessel. The Jones Act, a federal law, provides these rights.

In order to file a lawsuit in accordance with the Jones Act, an individual must fit the federal definition of a "seaman." A seaman is an individual of either gender who works on a vessel to help it achieve its mission or navigate. The individual's tie to the vessel where the injury occurs must be substantial.

Another requirement to invoke the Jones Act is to show that the ship in question is a "vessel" under the law. A "vessel" is typically defined as any watercraft that is either being used, or is capable of being used, for the purposes of traveling on the water.

To succeed on a Jones Act claim, an injured individual must prove that his employer was negligent and that negligence caused his injuries. These can be difficult elements to prove, but utilizing the law and rules of evidence at trial may help lead to the discovery of evidence that supports such a claim.

Those who have suffered offshore injuries can face significant losses. Medical expenses, lost wages, and even disfigurement can all be unfairly thrust upon an individual. This is why taking advantage of the Jones Act is so important for maritime workers. Those who wish to learn more about how to pursue compensation through admiralty and maritime law should consider discussing their situations with a qualified attorney.

Source: Ohio State Bar Association, "What You Should Know about the Jones Act and Maritime Injury Claims," accessed on April 7, 2017

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