Fishing Boat in the Middle of the Ocean Hofmann & SchweitzerMaritime work takes place in a variety of environments, and injuries can occur both at sea and on shore. Fortunately, employees who qualify as Jones Act seamen can collect payment for an injury regardless of where the accident occurred as long as they were performing duties related to their vessel. However, in order for the maritime worker to be considered a Jones Act seaman, the ship that an employee is assigned to will have to meet the legal definition of “vessel.”

Vessels Recognized Under the Jones Act

Since the precise definition of “Jones Act vessel” could be a deciding factor in whether your Jones Act injury benefits are approved or denied, it is vital to seek a maritime injury attorney’s help at the outset of your case. An attorney can examine the type of watercraft, your role as a crew member, and the nature of the injury to determine exactly who is to blame for the accident and how much you may be owed.

To qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, a crew member’s vessel must be:

Owned by an American company or individual. 

The Jones Act is a U.S. federal law, and will only apply to vessels subject to U.S. government regulation.

Operated in navigable waters.

The Jones Act has a federal jurisdiction, meaning vessels that travel between areas of interstate or international commerce.

Used to transport goods or passengers.

In 2005, the Supreme Court clarified the definition of the word “vessel” under the Jones Act as, "watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” Some common examples of vessels include fishing boats, ferries, barges cruise ships, tankers, freighters, tugboats, and cargo ships.

Capable of movement.

In the past, unpowered floating structures were exempt from Jones Act status, but the 2005 Supreme Court decision removed the requirement that a vessel be self-propelled. Under the new rules, offshore drilling platforms, dredges, docks, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, and floating work platforms or dormitories could now be considered Jones Act vessels.

Have You Been Injured In A Maritime Accident?

If you've been hurt in a maritime accident you need to speak with an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

You can also download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights today.


Paul T. Hofmann
Connect with me
Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.