Commercial divers can suffer serious injuries or even die as a result of employer negligence. However, not all commercial divers may be eligible for Jones Act seaman status, which means that they may not be eligible to file a lawsuit under the Act.The very first condition that a commercial diver must satisfy is that he must meet the requirements of a Jones Act seaman.
Broadly, this means that he must be assigned to a dive vessel in navigation, and must contribute to the mission of the vessel. Unfortunately, those criteria are sufficiently vague to cause confusion, and employers may try to deny Jones Act seaman status to deprive the commercial diver of his rightful compensation. If a commercial diver is not aware of his own status under the Jones Act, then it may be very easy for his employer to cheat him of his rightful compensation.
However, not all divers are eligible for Jones Act compensation. For instance, a freelance diver or an independent contractor may not be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. A diver who is employed by a commercial diving company or an offshore diving company may meet criteria under the Jones Act.
Additionally, factors like the kind of vessel that was used for the dive, as well as the location of the dive may also factor when it comes to determining your status.
As maritime lawyers, we often find employers attempting to confuse a commercial diver after an accident, trying to convince him that he is eligible for compensation under other maritime laws like the LHWCA, or the Workers’ Compensation laws of the state.
If you’ve been involved in a diving accident, do not make any decisions about your seaman status or your diving injury claim before consulting with a maritime lawyer.