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Jones Act interpretation changes the definition of vessel crews

Life on the high seas is famously difficult. Ancient mariners had no guarantees even when it came to direction, and the creation of better ships and navigation has still not eliminated all risk on and under the water.

Maritime law is a complicated set of regulations that cover various areas. The piece of law with which Americans are more likely to be familiar is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act. The law contains several provisions including how United States flagged ships and their crews operate, as well as how crew members may be protected after injury.

The Jones Act is not famous for new interpretations in court, but the Louisiana Court of Appeals recently clarified some definitions that may change to whom it applies. A decision regarding a worker on a casino riverboat moored in Lake Charles qualifies as a vessel under the Jones Act.

Vessel crews under the Jones Act must have duties contributing to the vessel’s function and the vessel must be capable of navigation. The court held that the United States Code’s definition of a vessel is any watercraft, even one that is moored for a long period of time.

Now that there is a larger accepted definition of vessels, more crew members may be eligible for protections guaranteed by the Jones Act, including workers’ compensation for injuries on the job.

Sailors seeking the protection of the Jones Act may request the help of an attorney. Legal representation can review any case of injury or illness on the job and recommend the best way to seek satisfaction.