How crucial is it to prove you qualify as a seaman? Price v. Quality Energy Services, Inc. is a good case to illustrate the importance of having a connection to a vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control. It’s a fundamental rule to qualify as a seaman. See if Price managed to attain seaman status.
Mr. Price’s Personal Injury Case
Jared Price was injured while working as a plug and abandon helper on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico. He argued that he was a seaman because as such he would be entitled to special protection under the maritime law.
A general rule to answer the seaman status question for a maritime worker is that he or she must spend more than 30% of his or her time in the service of a vessel in navigation. But, there must also be a connection to a vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control. The platform operator hired two lift boats to assist in decommissioning the platform and Price spent 50% of his time on one of them. Would that prove his status?
The Vessels’ Common Ownership Criteria
Separate vessel companies owned the two lift boats where Price worked. Therefore, he did not have a connection to a fleet of vessels that was under his employer’s common ownership or control. As a result, the Lafayette federal court found that he was NOT a seaman.
As a crewmember, you should be aware that your employer will always contest whether you are a seaman if the circumstances allow. They wish to avoid the expansive rights and remedies to which you are entitled.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a seaman, please contact us at 504-500-5060.