Are You a Seaman?

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The United States Supreme Court defined a “Jones Act” seaman in Chandris v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347 (1995) as an officer, crewmember or worker who spends 30 percent or more of his or her time aboard a vessel in navigable waters. This means that the Jones Act covers the regular crewmembers but also any person aboard the vessel which is regularly employed to perform duties that contribute to the single vessel or fleet of vessels’ function.

What Constitutes Seaman Status under the Jones Act?

Generally, Courts use a three part test to determine seaman status. First, a seaman must work aboard a vessel on navigable waters. Courts vary in their definition of navigable waters, some consider a navigable waterway to be essentially any body of water in which a vessel can be transported. Other Courts have narrowly construed navigable waters and do not include inland lakes or waterways.

Second, a seaman must spend 30 percent of his time aboard a vessel and perform duties that contribute to the function of the vessel. Therefore, a seaman does not need to be a worker that always works aboard vessels but it can be one that occasionally works aboard vessels and contributes to the function of the vessel.

Third, as mentioned above, a seaman must contribute to the function of the vessel. This means that the worker’s duties must in some way relate to the operation of the vessel. It is not sufficient that the seaman or crewmember be a mere passenger. The seaman must be actively contributing to the daily function and operation of the vessel. The court will look at the duties that the seaman performed while aboard the vessel to determine whether it fits the criteria of contributing to the function of the vessel.

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As a Seaman, What Are my Rights?

Under the Jones Act, seamen have certain rights including:

  • Maintenance and Cure
  • Recovery of damages for negligence against the seaman’s employer
  • Recovery of damages caused by unseaworthiness of the vessel
  • Medical expenses
  • Compensation for lost wages
  • Compensation for future economic loss
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Disfigurement


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“My experience with Mr. Skrabanek was honestly far better than all expectations that we had. He took care of us like we were family, making sure me and my wife always felt like a priority and walked us through all of the concerns that we had. If you are looking for a professional who truly cares for his clients you can stop the search. You won’t be disappointed.”

Denise J.

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“Mike and his team helped me settle an injury claim case. I was informed and helped through every step and they were always professional and very responsive. I really enjoyed working with them.”

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“My attorney, Michael, did an amazing job with my case. He’s a straight shooter and has a vast knowledge of the law combined with an extensive amount of experience, making him a fantastic attorney. I fully recommend this firm.

Thank you Pierce Skrabenek!”

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“Paul Skrabanek of the law firm Pierce Skrabanek was very professional and went above & beyond in handling my daughter's case. Very dedicated, worked diligently, and got justice for my family. If I could give a higher rating than 5 stars I would. Thank you and your firm for such tenacity.”

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“These guys are awesome, they were very informative from the beginning to end, working with them was super smooth, and I had all questions answered thoroughly. The whole team at this firm works to help in every way they can. They were able to get me the compensation I deserved and exceeded my expectations. If you’re ever in need of a stellar team to stand behind you and work for you, these guys are the ones you would want in your corner.

Thank you very much Paul and thank your team for me.”

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“Working with Paul Skrabanek was a very positive experience. He helped me understand the legal process as someone who has never been a part of a lawsuit, and was able to get me settled quickly and painlessly! Loved working with Pierce Skrabanek law firm!”

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Michael Pierce and his team, especially Krystle, were very professional, always available (even on weekends), and very knowledgeable. We appreciate their hard work on our case and the time they took to explain every detail as our case progressed. Mike is a phenomenal attorney and we highly recommend them for your legal needs.”

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“Fantastic team of attorneys and staff dedicated to their clients. Michael Pierce is an outstanding trial attorney for personal injury cases.”

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For a free consultation with an experienced Jones Act and maritime lawyer at Pierce | Skrabanek, please contact our law firm. We have obtained millions in settlements and verdicts for clients injured offshore.

Frequently Asked Questions

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