Louisiana workers who work offshore may wonder what the Jones Act is and how it relates to their employees’ status. Here is a brief guide to the Jones Act.
What is the Jones Act?
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, grants seamen the right to sue their employer if they were injured in the execution of their duties. (Basically, it confers workers’ compensation rights to maritime workers). Determining whether a worker qualifies under the Jones Act is a two-part test. First, the employee must contribute to the vessel’s function, and two, the employee must have a connection to the vessel that is substantial in both duration and nature.
Considering this test, it becomes clear that an offshore supply vessel’s captain and crew would be considered falling under the Jones Act as seamen. But those workers on an offshore installation that is permanently attached to the seabed would not qualify as a seaman. However, a contract employee responsible for operating equipment on a barge or floating platform has a less clear case.
Does my job fall under the Jones Act?
Offshore installations can involve Jones Act seamen, nonmaritime employees, and other maritime employees. Whether a worker falls under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) or the Jones Act will determine these workers’ rights in the case of injury or accident.
If you believe that you may have a claim that falls under the Jones Act, it might be in your best interests to consult with an attorney. They will be able to clearly determine if you are a maritime or nonmaritime employee covered by the Jones Act.