What is A Seaman Under the Jones Act?

Do I Qualify Under the Jones Act If I Am Injured? Am I a Seaman?

Under the Jones Act, “seamen” who are injured in their line of work or suffer occupational illness are entitled to compensation for their medical care, lost wages, and sometimes other financial damages. However, whether you are considered to be a “seaman” under the law is important to your recovery—and the definition may not be as obvious as you think.

Who Is a “Seaman” Under the Jones Act?

The text of the Jones Act itself does not define a “seaman.” Rather, court cases interpreting who is eligible for Jones Act relief Three Vessels on the Oceanhave defined the term over time. Ultimately, the Supreme Court developed a three-part test to determine if an individual counts as a “seaman” within scope of the Jones Act:

Are you professionally attached to a vessel that navigates on the water?
Do you have a substantial employment connection to this vessel or fleet of vessels in terms of time served or the nature of your duties?
Do your duties make a significant contribution to the function of the vessel?

With the Jones Act, seamen are afforded some of the greatest protections in American law. But, without a clear statutory definition of the term “seaman,” it is often necessary to talk over the details with an attorney to determine if you qualify for these special protections awarded to those who spend their lives working at sea.
Job Positions Usually Covered by the Jones Act and Other Maritime Laws

If you meet the basic requirements to be considered a seaman, your position on the vessel does not matter. The Jones Act covers all kinds of positions, including:

  • Cook
  • Steward
  • Deckhand
  • Roustabout
  • Roughneck
  • Driller
  • Commercial fisherman
  • Captain
  • AB
  • Deckhand
  • Ferry worker
  • Carpenter

Temporary workers, some contractors, and passengers are generally excluded, but most other positions working on or near the water are generally covered. Although they don’t qualify for Jones Act benefits, passengers and non-employees who are injured on a ship or as a result of an accident on the water may have other options for recovery. If you have any questions about your rights, don’t be afraid to talk it over confidentially with an attorney who is familiar with maritime laws and injury claims.

Types of Vessels That Jones Act Seamen Work On

The type of vessel you work on can also have an impact on whether or not you qualify as a “seaman.” For the purposes of the Jones Act, the word “vessel” can be applied to a number of different structures and ships, such as:

  • Drill ships
  • Towboats
  • Crew boats
  • Floating cranes
  • Cargo ships
  • Cruise ships
  • Dredges
  • Fishing boats
  • Ferry boats
  • Jack-up rigs
  • Semi-submersible vessels
  • Tugboats
  • Barges
  • Supply boats
  • Tankers

Keep in mind, too, that a common misunderstanding about the Jones Act is that people think you have to be injured while a vessel is in the water in order for this law to apply. This is not how the Jones Act works. Even if you are injured while docked or on land, you may have a valid Jones Act claim. As long as you were required to work on a vessel at the time of your injury, it doesn’t matter whether you were on this vessel or on the water.

Some Workers Who Don’t Qualify for the Jones Act Still May Qualify for Other Compensation for an Injury

There are other workers who do not qualify as “seamen” but still work on or near the water. While they may not qualify for Jones Act benefits, they may have rights under other maritime laws. For example, the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers some injured workers who don’t qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act, including:

  • Stevedores
  • Longshoremen
  • Dock workers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Harbor workers

The types of benefits awarded under the Jones Act, LHWCA, and other laws can differ greatly, so it’s important to get informed about your rights and the benefits you can pursue as soon as possible after you’ve been hurt.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys Today for Answers About the Jones Act and Injury Benefits

If you have been hurt while working on just about any type of vessel, there is a good chance that you are eligible for benefits under the Jones Act or other laws. However, not every claim is successful, and sometimes it might not even be necessary to pursue a claim at all. Because Jones Act claims can be complicated, we urge you to seek legal guidance before you decide whether or not you want to pursue a claim. Keep in mind that, while many maritime employees are covered by the Jones Act, not all employees are protected in every situation.

For more information about your rights, we invite you to download a free copy of our report, The Insider’s Guide to Winning Your Jones Act Case. Or, to start investigating your case with one of our experienced attorneys right away, please contact us at 877-724-7800.

Compensation for Injured Jones Act Workers

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Your Rights to Jones Act Benefits

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Fears about wrongful maritime discharge

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Houston businessman hit by 18-wheeler thanks VB Attorneys

When a water truck made an unsafe lane change and hit Isidor’s car, Isidor’s life changed forever. The wreck left him with a low back injury that affected his ability to do his job and live his life. He turned to a neighbor who happened to be a lawyer for help since he was facing a big company and their insurance company. The lawyer did nothing productive for Isidor, who increasingly felt like the wreck was messing up his whole life. He lost his job because of the wreck and his back wasn’t getting any better. He wound up getting back surgery almost a year after the wreck.

Isidor decided he needed a new lawyer. He searched online and contacted us. After meeting with Vuk, he decided to hire us to help him make things right. Vuk got to work right away and was able to help Isidor hold the company accountable for their unsafe driver. The case settled before trial for a confidential amount.

Now, Isidor owns a cell phone repair shop in Houston and has his life back. He sat down with us recently to talk about his experience working with us to get his life back. He says:

“Hi, my name is Isidor. I would like to thank Vuk, Linda, and the rest of the staff cause there was a couple of other staff members that helped me along the way during my hospital visits and everything.

“I would like to tell them that I appreciate everything that they did. This was life-changing for me. And I appreciate this help that you gave me. Thank you.

“What brought me to see Vuk was I got into a real bad car accident a few years ago and I had hired an attorney that I felt wasn’t handling my case right. So I did some research and I found Vuk online. It recommended that he was one of the best car accident attorneys  that I can find. So I contacted him.

“He took over my case and I’m more than happy that he actually took over my case. He’s actually been guiding me every step along the way. He – even after the case was over – he still keeps in contact with me to make sure everything’s fine. I recommend Vuk to anybody and everybody, man. I wish I would have met him sooner.

“Not only did he get me a big, large lump sum for my settlement, but even afterwards, he actually battled the collectors that were after the rest of my – our – money.  And he took care of those cases at no additional charge. And he made sure that all the money I deserve came to me. And I really appreciate for him going that extra mile without charging me or anything extra. Thank you.”

Isidor C., businessman hit by an 18-wheeler, Houston, Tx

Did your property flood because of a dam release during Harvey?

In some situations, you may be compensated for your Harvey flood claim even if you don’t have flood insurance.

You may be able to get compensated if your property flooded because dams in Harris and Montgomery Counties released flood waters during Harvey. Under a law known as “inverse condemnation,” you may have the right to be compensated by the governmental entities who made the decision to flood your home.

Whether your home flooded because you’re downstream from the Lake Conroe Dam or the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs  you have a constitutional right to sue the government and be compensated. Inverse condemnation laws apply when the government damaged your property to prevent a larger catastrophe.

Under inverse condemnation laws, you don’t need flood insurance to be compensated. This is a totally separate claim. Instead of having to worry about having coverage, with these claims, all you have to do is live in the path of destruction.

You are entitled to make this claim even if you did have flood insurance, even if you make an insurance claim, and even if your insurance company pays your claim.

How do inverse condemnation claims work?

Under the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution, you have the right to be compensated if the government takes your property. Under Article I, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution, you have an explicit right to be compensated if the government chooses to destroy your property for the greater good:

“No person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made, unless by the consent of such person.”

This is the main authority you have for filing an inverse condemnation lawsuit against the government in the wake of Harvey. Under the Texas Constitution and Texas case decisions, you must prove three things:

  1. Intent
  2. Causation
  3. Public Use

Why don’t you have to prove the government “acted badly” to win your case?

In some other kinds of civil lawsuits, you have to prove the other party acted badly, however that’s not the case if your property flooded because you’re downstream from the Lake Conroe Dam or Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. People and businesses often recover in these kinds of cases where the government acted for the greater public good. You took a hit for your fellow citizens – for the greater, public good – and the government should compensate you for that.

How do you prove a Harvey inverse condemnation case?

Under the Texas Constitution, you have to prove intent, causation, and public use.

  • To prove intent, you must show that “a governmental entity knows that a specific act is causing identifiable harm or knows that the harm is substantially certain to result.” In your Harvey case, you must prove the government knew that its act of releasing the dam was “substantially certain” to cause harm in the area where your property was located.
  • To prove causation, you must prove the government’s dam release “resulted in a ‘taking’ of property.’” If you can prove that the release of a dam caused flooding and damage to your property, then you have shown a “taking” of your property.
  • You must prove the government’s release of a dam was for a “public use.”  You can prove this if you prove that the reason the government released the dam was to protect the public. We’ve all been glued to the news and have seen the headlines that these dams were opened for the greater good – to prevent more flooding further downstream.

How do you file an inverse condemnation case?

The government – whether your case is filed against the local, state, or federal government –  fights these cases hard and is not known for settling inverse condemnation cases out of court. Even though you have a constitutional right to be compensated, the government has historically forced people to file a lawsuit and have a jury trial in order for you to get the compensation you deserve.

Our firm is filing inverse condemnation lawsuits on behalf of our clients. We have been getting a lot of questions from a lot of people who are worried about their flooded homes, cars, and property. People are worried. They are worried they will lose everything and have no way to get it back. Worried that they don’t have flood insurance, or if they do, that it won’t come close to covering the flood damage they’ve sustained. We’re worried too. Every single one of our employees lives in areas that flooded, our law firm is located in an area that sustained heavy flood damage, and Vuk and Brian both have homes in the West Houston area.

How do you know if you qualify for an inverse condemnation case?

If you live downstream of the Lake Conroe Dam on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River or if you live downstream of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs on the Buffalo Bayou, you most likely qualify for an inverse condemnation case if your property flooded because of the government’s decision to flood your property during Harvey.

For people living downstream from Lake Conroe’s dam on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, you can verify if you’re in the spillway area on this map:

For people living downstream from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs on the Buffalo Bayou, you can verify if you’re in the spillway on this map:

Why hire VB Attorneys for my case?

This is one less worry you need to have right now. Our firm has helped thousands of people in Houston and across Texas get the compensation they deserve. We have a proven track record at trial, including recently winning a $17,720,000 verdict against a national construction company, Austin Bridge and Road, that resulted in a judgment of more than $20 million.  You can find out more about our firm at www.VBAttorneys.com.

How do I hire VB Attorneys for my case?

Call us at 877-724-7800 now to get a free, confidential consultation. We will answer all of your questions and help you determine if you qualify to file an inverse condemnation claim.


Maximizing your Harvey flood claim

You will want to make the most out of meeting with the insurance adjuster so that you can maximize the value of your claim.

Before you meet with the adjuster, you will need to do the following:

  • Photograph every room and every damaged item BEFORE you remove it from the property. If you have 2 TVs, you need to have photos of the two damaged TVs.
  • Photograph the property in detail before you muck it out.
  • If you can get the insurance adjuster out before you muck out your property, that is ideal. However, after a flood such as Harvey, that probably won’t happen. If it does, they will be able to see the damage first hand and document it for themselves.
  • List everything you’ve lost. If any receipts survived the flood, or if you stored them digitally, compile those for the adjuster.
  • Get estimates for repairing the damage to your property and for replacing your destroyed items. You want multiple estimates to make sure you’re getting a fair price.

Meeting with the adjuster and beyond:

  • Show the adjuster all the damage. If you have photos on your phone, email them to the adjuster or get hard copies printed out and mail them to the adjuster.
  • Verify the adjuster’s identity. There are fake adjusters out there who do take advantage of flood victims. Call the insurance company and verify their identity.
  • Document all communication with the insurance company and the adjuster. Take notes of phone conversations and save emails and letters.
  • Don’t cash any check without reading it first. By cashing a check, you could be forfeiting your right to be compensated further. If you have any questions about cashing a check, contact an attorney.
  • If you believe you’re being low-balled or the insurance company is delaying paying you, contact an attorney.

Our Houston-based attorneys specialize in taking on the insurance companies. We know what you’re going through and want to help you recover and rebuild as quickly as possible. We work on a contingency basis, so any phone conversation or in-person meeting with us is 100% free and 100% confidential. Call us now at 877-724-7800.

What to do if your landlord or contractor doesn’t have flood insurance?

If your landlord or contractor told you they had purchased flood insurance when you signed your contract on your home, finding out they didn’t can add problems on top of problems if your home floods. Now on top of having to get your home repaired, buy new essentials, and rebuild your life, you won’t benefit from a resource you thought you had. It doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. We’ve compiled some ways you can still recover:

The first thing to do is buy flood insurance. You have to buy it through an insurance agent, but if your insurer doesn’t offer flood insurance, you can call FEMA’s NFIP Referral Call Center at 888-379-9531 for a referral. It takes 30 days to go into effect, and can’t be applied to a past event, but you’ll be prepared for the future.

The second thing to do is contact an attorney. You may be able to hold the landlord or contractor or whomever accountable for lying to you. Gather up everything you can – contracts, emails, letters, notes, etc. – and bring them with you when you meet with an attorney about your case. The attorney will work with you to find out if you have a legal case against the landlord or contractor and will also work with you to find out if you qualify for any other disaster assistance.

Our Houston-based attorneys know exactly what you’re going through. We want to help you rebuild and recover as quickly as possible. Contact us at 877-724-7800 for help now.

How do you get Disaster Assistance from the government?

Need to file a Disaster Assistance claim with the government?

If your claim is denied, if you have questions about how to get back on your feet after Harvey, give us a call. We will help: 877-724-7800. The call is 100% free and 100% confidential.

Don’t have flood insurance? What to do next?

Flood insurance is something that is required for some property owners and not for others. If your home has flooded in the wake of Harvey, and you don’t have flood insurance, you may still have options.

What to do if you don’t have flood insurance:

If you are denied assistance, you may have other legal options. Our attorneys will walk you through your situation, your legal options, and what your best course of action should be. Talking to us is 100% free and 100% confidential. As Houstonians, we know what you’re going through and want to help you rebuild and recover. Contact us now at 877-724-7800.


VB Attorneys matches donations for Harvey rescue workers

VB Attorneys will match your donations.

As the full impact of Harvey hits Houston and the Texas Coast, Americares is on the ground, helping the helpers. The people risking their lives to rescue our neighbors, loved ones, friends, and fellow Houstonians receive crucial support from Americares.

Americares saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential.This organization is in Texas right now, distributing water and aid as well as mobilizing medical outreach with our local partners. Thousands and thousands of our fellow Texans are in desperate need of aid, medicine and basic supplies. Help us help the helpers.

Every little bit makes a huge difference. The impact Harvey will have on our region is just beginning, and we at VB Attorneys want to do everything possible to help our city, our region, and our state recover.

VB Attorneys has been based in Houston since 2004. We help people who need help getting the insurance company to do the right thing and compensate them fairly. Find out more about all the ways we’re helping Harvey victims or call us at 877-724-7800 if you need help in the aftermath of Harvey.

Click HERE to donate to Americares.