Part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act provides protections for seamen during the course of their work on a vessel. The rights outlines in this legislation help injured marine workers to get benefits and compensation.
However, one prevalent issue under this act is the unclear definition of a seaman. It is clear that to get benefits under the Jones Act, a person must be an active and working seaman, but who is a seaman lacks a definition. This causes some issues because to qualify for benefits under the law, a person must show he or she is a qualifying seaman.
Work on a vessel
One of the clear points about who qualifies is the person must work on a qualifying vessel. Most commercial boats will have coverage. The actual position held by the person is not important as the act covers everyone from entry-level workers to captains.
Work during the right time
The act does require that a worker be active on a vessel that is in navigation for at least 30% of the time. “In navigation” means that the boat is ready and able to go out on the water. If someone is working on maintenance on a vessel that is not seaworthy, then this requirement could lead to issues. However, 30% of the time is not a large amount, so it may be possible to qualify if work extends after the vessel is ready to leave shore.
To qualify for benefits, a seaman must make an injury report within seven days to the employer. Other deadlines also apply, and medical care must occur as quickly as possible.