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Who Qualifies As a Seaman?

Who Qualifies As a Seaman?

For generations, Alaska has been one of the busiest areas for commercial fishing and oil collection at sea. Many men and women have worked for commercial fishing companies, canning companies, and oil companies out on the seas of the Pacific Ocean. The Center for Public Integrity published its findings after researching the deadliest areas for commercial fishing. Alaska was found to be the second deadliest area behind the east coast. Due the high risk of fishing and oil rig jobs, Congress passed a law in 1920 known as the Jones Act. This law states that any seaman who suffers an injury while in the course of their employment may maintain actions against the shipowner, captain or any other members of the crew. To qualify for this protective act, you must be a seaman.

Who is a Seaman?

The basic definition of a seaman is someone who spends a significant amount of time working as crew or captain on a ship considered “in navigation.” In order for the vessel to be considered in navigation, it has to fit the legal definition.

A vessel must be the following:

  • On Navigable Waters
  • Afloat
  • Capable of Moving
  • In Operation

Seamen must also contribute to the work of the vessel. Cooks, captains and other crewmembers are considered contributors, however passengers may not. The law also states that seaman must spend a significant amount of time on a vessel to qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act. A seaman must spend about 30% of his or her time on the vessel to qualify.

Injured at Sea?

If you sustained an injury while at sea, you could be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Often commercial vessel injuries can be life-altering, debilitating injuries that leave their victims unable to work or provide for their families. As an Alaska personal injury attorney, I believe no one should have to fear for their livelihood after being injured at the hands of a negligent shipowner, captain or crew member.Call (888) 295-6566 to speak to me, David Henderson of Henderson Law Firm.


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