Houston Offshore Injuries Attorney
Workers aboard boats and vessels in navigable waters are typically covered by the Jones Act. Many of us are used to hearing the term “workers’ compensation” and thinking it will cover us if we are hurt on the job. However, crew aboard vessels at sea in the Gulf Coast or a river, or drillers on an offshore oil rig, are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if injured. This is just one of the many examples of why offshore injuries claims are different from other personal injury claims.
Instead, offshore workers are covered by federal admiralty law or the “Jones Act.” Maritime law and the Jones Act are extremely complicated. The origins of maritime law date back as old as this country, with years of court interpretation, and there is a lot to know in this area of law.
What is a vessel under the Jones Act?
If your job requires you to work on a vessel or boat in navigation, then you are likely covered under the Jones Act. The definition of a vessel has become rather broad with recent case law. A vessel includes:
- Oceangoing ships like crew boats, cruise ships, and cargo ships
- Tugboats, barges, and inland workboats
- Jack-up rigs, spars, semi-submersibles, offshore platforms, and drilling rigs
Who is covered by the Jones Act?
For a worker to fall under the Jones Act, they must be working on a vessel, and their job must “contribute to the mission” of the vessel. “Contribute to the mission” is again a broad term under the Jones Act. The below list is not exhaustive but provides an overview of jobs that may be covered by the Jones Act:
- Captains and crew members
- Roughnecks, roustabouts, drillers, toolpushers, derrickmen, company men, and OIMs (Offshore Installation Managers)
- Ordinary seaman, able-bodied seaman, deckhands, engineers, mates
- Tankermen and Barge workers
- Cooks and galley hands
When someone is injured on a boat or vessel, it must be determined what law applies to the specific situation. The Jones Act, Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and General Maritime Law may apply. The injured party may be entitled to maintenance and cure, and much more. Contact The Martin Law Firm to discuss your rights.