Seaman are provided special legal protections in comparison to other maritime workers because of their exposure to the “perils of the sea.” Although the Jones Act grants a seaman a cause of action, “seaman” is not defined in the federal statutes, leaving the courts to determine which maritime workers are entitled to this special protection.

Seaman Status

To determine whether you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, you must determine if the you were employed on a qualified vessel and whether your work on the vessel was related to the navigation of the vessel. Basically, you must qualify as a member of the vessel’s crew.

The United States Supreme Court established the following two-part test to determine seaman status under the Jones Act, (i) the employee’s duties is required to contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of the vessel’s mission and (ii) a seaman is required to have a connection to a vessel in navigation (or an identifiable group of such vessels) substantial in terms of both duration and nature.



The purpose of the first element is to exclude individuals who do not perform the ship’s work in accordance with the Jones Act. However, the United States Supreme Court determined this threshold requirement is broad and generally, those who work at sea in service of a ship are eligible for seaman status.

The intent of the second element is to provide full effect of Congress’s purposes and separate sea-based maritime employees entitled to the benefits of the Jones Act protections from land-based workers, who only have a changing or sporadic connection with a vessel in navigation; the land-based worker is not regularly exposed to the perils of the sea.

Generally, if the employee shows he performed a significant part of his work on board the vessel whereupon he was injured with some degree of regularity and continuity, the test for seaman status is satisfied. Guidelines adopted by the United States Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals identified 30 percent as the minimal amount of time a worker needs to spend in service on a vessel as a seaman to qualify under the Jones Act. Furthermore, the duration of the worker’s connection to a vessel and the nature of his activities determine whether a maritime employee is a seaman.

If you believe you qualify as a Jones Act seaman, it is important that you contact an Jones Act Lawyer who understands how to protect your rights.  Contact Cueria Law Firm, LLC today for a free evaluation of your claim.


Baldwin v. Cleanblast, LLC, 158 So. 3d 270 (2015)

Armand v. Terral River Service, Inc., 158 So. 3d 61 (2014)

Freeman v. Intermoor, Inc. and/or Acteon US holding, Ltd., No. 2012 CA 1581 (2013).

Troglen v. Hydraulic Well Control, 149 So. 3d 972 (2014), No. 14-308.

Jones v. McCall, 105 So. 3d 810 (2012), No. CA 12-558

Reed v. Devon Energy Production Co., 14 So. 3d 545 (2012), No. 2012-CA-0544