A Historic Law Firm,
A Modern Approach
  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Admiralty & Maritime Defense
  4.  » An employee may need to prove seaman status under the Jones Act

An employee may need to prove seaman status under the Jones Act

Texas businesses can face liability for a maritime employee’s injuries under the Jones Act of 1920. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an injured worker with “seaman” status may file a legal action to recover 100% of accident-related expenses and damages.

A court may award financial relief when an employee successfully proves an injury resulted from an employer’s negligence. The court’s award may include lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering. To win their lawsuits, however, maritime employees must prove their status as a seaman.

The Jones Act clarified a seaman’s right to a legal action

Before 1920, a court could deny an injured seaman’s negligence claim when crewmembers on a vessel caused bodily harm. A court could decide that a maritime worker had no right to a remedy because the injury resulted from the negligence of a “fellow servant.”

Through the Jones Act, Congress clarified that an employer had liability for an injury caused to a seaman because of negligence onboard a vessel. If negligence injured a crewmember during the course of maritime work, the court may provide a remedy.

Courts use a two-part test to determine status

As noted on the Steamship Mutual website, the Supreme Court’s 1995 Chandris v. Latsis ruling established a two-part test for determining if an employee classifies as a seaman.

The first part requires proof an employee’s duties contributed to a vessel’s mission or function. The second requires showing a “connection to a vessel in navigation” that is also “substantial” in “duration” and “nature.”

Unique circumstances may surround each case involving an employee classified as a seaman. When working on a vessel, however, an employee may face uniquely hazardous conditions. If an injury occurs as a result of an employer’s negligence, a legal action may serve to provide financial relief.