Who Qualifies as a Seaman?

Aug 12

 Are you a seaman? When it comes to personal injuries claims, seamen need to prove their status as such because there is a lot at stake. Whether you qualify as a seaman can affect your injury lawsuit significantly. 

Why Seaman Status Matters In Personal Injury Lawsuits?

The general maritime law and the Jones Act provide special protection and benefits to maritime workers who qualify as seamen.  In maritime personal injury litigation, a hotly contested issue is whether a maritime employee qualifies as a seaman or not.

Note that not all maritime workers meet the requirements, but injured vessel crewmen who do acquire three core privileges in court. They can turn to the ‘trinity of remedies’:

  • Jones Act negligence
  • Unseaworthiness of the vessel
  • Maintenance and cure

The more claims a Jones Act seaman can assert, the better their chances are to recover rightful compensation for their damages.

How to Prove a Seaman’s Status?

To prove your seaman status, you must satisfy a two-part test:

  1. Your duties must contribute to the function of the vessel and the accomplishment of its mission. 
  2. You must have a substantial connection to a vessel or a fleet of vessels. This connection would be questioned both in terms of its duration and nature.

If you are a vessel crewmember, you will most likely qualify as a Jones Act seaman. A seaman could be the Captain, a pilot, a mate, a deckhand, an engineer, an oiler, or any other similar job position. However, if your work duties are split between land or oil and gas platforms and vessels, the question can be more complicated.

So, do you qualify as a seaman? Always consult with a knowledgeable maritime personal injury attorney who can ensure you benefit from the protection any seaman is entitled to. Next, learn the rule of thumb for vessel connection that courts use to test the seamen’s status.