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What is the Jones Act, and how can it help you?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2023 | Admiralty And Maritime Law, Blog

Working on a ship, you must be familiar with a range of maritime laws and regulations. One of the most important ones is the Jones Act, a federal law that has a significant impact on your rights as a maritime worker.

The Jones Act, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, provides a range of protections for seamen injured on the job. Understanding the Act can empower you to protect your rights and seek the support you need if you sustain an injury.

Protections under the Jones Act

The Jones Act sets strict safety standards for vessels and their operations. If these standards are not met and you get injured as a result, the Act allows you to sue your employer for negligence. This is a major departure from many other industries, where workers’ compensation laws often prevent employees from suing their employers directly.

Under the Act, your employer has a duty to provide a reasonably safe work environment. This includes maintaining safe equipment, providing proper training and ensuring sufficient staffing levels. If your employer fails in these duties and you suffer an injury as a result, you could potentially receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Who the Jones Act protects

“Seamen” is a term that includes almost anyone who works on a ship or boat that is in navigation. To qualify for protection under the Jones Act, you need to spend a significant amount of your work time on the vessel, which courts typically interpret as at least 30% of your work time. “In navigation means that the vessel must be afloat, in operation, capable of moving and on navigable waters.

As a seaman, understanding the Jones Act can help you safeguard your rights and ensure you receive the protections you deserve while working on a ship.


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