Defining a Jones Act Employee

Miami & Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

The Jones Act is designed to protect the rights of seamen and provide for compensation in the event of injury. However, as used in the Jones Act, “seamen” is a term of art, not explicitly defined in the Jones Act, passed in 1920, or anywhere in the United States Code. However, in 1927 Congress passed complementary legislation to the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which covers workers other than a worker covered by the Jones Act, which it described as being “a master or member of a crew of any vessel,” which became the test for Jones Act employees. Courts further established the 30% rule, which basically says that to be considered a seaman for the purposes of the Jones Act, an employee must spend 30% of his or her employment hours on the ship. Other times, a stricter standard is applied: a person must have a more-or-less permanent assignment on one or more vessels and should contribute to the vessel’s function. Still not sure you’re a “seaman” under the terms of the Jones Act? We can help you figure it out. Please call 1-800 THE FIRM or email The Cochran Firm South Florida for a free case evaluation.