A person can suffer injuries just about anywhere. However, if you suffer injuries while performing work, you may be entitled to (or restricted to) certain forms of recovery depending on where those injuries occur and your relationship with the location. For example, a person who is injured as a result of work they are performing may be limited to recovery under the Worker’s Compensation Act. The same is true for a person who is injured on the high seas.
When a seaman suffers personal injury or death while on a vessel, the Jones Act provides an expansive remedy for him. The Act mandates that “any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the court of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law.” However, coverage under the Jones Act is dependent on one thing: whether or not the employee constitutes as a “seaman.” Unfortunately, because the Act does not directly define who qualifies as a “seaman,” it is often difficult to know whether you meet the requirements of a Jones Act seaman.
In order to qualify as a Jones Act seaman, one must show: (1) the employees duties contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission; and (2) there is a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both duration and its nature.