In the Eyes of the Law: Are Barge Workers Considered to be Seamen?

barge worker

The Jones Act is a federal law that is designed to be protectionist legislation and gives sailors a certain amount of rights as they go about their work across the seas and in ports around the globe.

One issue that is sometimes problematic to answer is whether barge workers are afforded the same level of protection.

Whether you are a barge worker or a sailor on a ship, In the event of a claim it makes sense to appoint the best maritime injury lawyers around to improve the chances of getting the best outcome for the injured part.

In terms of the distinction between barge workers and seamen, here is a look at some of the key points.

Proving your status

A fundamental aspect to consider in the first place is how a seaman is defined in the eyes of the law that matters, The Jones Act.

There are a couple of key things that need to be proved in order to establish seaman status.

Firstly, it is necessary to confirm your employment-related status to the vessel you were working on when you were injured. This is normally established by confirming that your job status is relevant to the functionality of the vessel, regardless of whether this is a ship or a barge.

The nature of the work duties is highly relevant and it does make a critical difference whether you were working in navigable waters at the time the accident occurred.

How do these rules apply to barge workers?

It is clear that barge workers tend to be asked to perform a wide variety of duties and that includes navigating the vessel as well as performing maintenance tasks.

Another common scenario is where barge workers who are tasked with working on other vessels when loading or unloading cargo.

All of these factors surrounding work duties have the potential to allow a number of barge workers to be giving the same status under the Jones Act as they would be considered seamen.

The chances of achieving this status are greatly improved if the barge worker was working on a vessel in navigable waters.

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Not straightforward

Unfortunately, it is definitely not the case that every injury suffered by a barge worker qualifies the person to be treated as a seaman and, therefore, covered by the Jones Act.

There are many different factors that come into play and it can sometimes be very challenging and complicated to tick all the boxes so that a barge worker is granted seaman status.

It should also be noted that even when a barge worker fails to prove that they should be treated as a seaman in the eyes of the law there are other laws and acts that offer a route to claim compensation when it is due.

For instance, The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is aimed at potentially filling the gaps that would be covered by the Jones Act.

Proving seaman status for barge workers is not straightforward and that is one of many good reasons why it often pays to get professional legal guidance when an accident has occurred.

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