A crew member on a container ship off the Alaska coast had to be evacuated by the Coast Guard over the weekend, after he suffered serious leg injuries.

The man, a 31-year-old Taiwanese national suffered injuries while he was working on board the 390-feet container vessel, Ever Unique.  Other crew members quickly alerted the Coast Guard, which then conducted an evacuation of the crewmember.  The man was airlifted to shore, from where he was taken to Anchorage for medical care. According to the crew members, the injuries occurred while the man was working in the engine room.  There is no information yet on what kind of accident caused these injuries.  The man apparently worked as a fitter aboard the vessel.

Work on a vessel can be challenging for any seaman.  However, most vessels will have maritime workers who come from across the globe.  In fact, most seafarers come from countries like the Philippines, Greece, Russia, and across Africa and Asia.  When these seamen are injured in an accident on the vessel, the trauma can be amplified.  They don’t speak the language very well, and are thousands of miles away from their loved ones.  In fact, as maritime attorneys, we often find that foreign seamen are unaware of their rights.

One of the beauties of the Jones Act is that it has provided the same rights to foreign seamen as have been made available to American seamen.  If you’re a foreign-born national working on a vessel that falls under the purview of the Jones Act, and meets the criteria of a Jones Act vessel, then you may be eligible to be considered a Jones Act seaman too.  Jones Act seaman status has little to do with your nationality, and more to do with the status of the vessel you’re working on, as well as your relationship to the vessel.