Jones Act

Humans have used the word’s waterways as a vital method of transportation for thousands of years. The planet’s rivers, lakes and oceans help connect communities that are far apart, and even today, we use them for shipping and navigation. Workers in this industry need protection for injuries just as those working in any other industry do. The body of maritime law provides that coverage, and the Jones Act provides specific coverage for those working aboard vessels, as well as longshoremen and other workers who may be injured when interacting with a vessel in some way. Jones Act attorneys specialize in maritime law and can help injured workers fight for their rights.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act is one of the more recent evolutions of ancient maritime law. Its official name was the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It has gone through a number of iterations and changes, the most recent of which was in 2006, although there are still attempts to disassemble it or totally scrap the act (Senator John McCain is one of the most outspoken opponents of the Act). Today, the Jones Act covers more than just incidents on the ocean, and includes inland navigable waters (the similar Death on the High Seas Act does not apply to any inland waterways).

How It Protects Workers

The Jones Act is specifically applied to shipboard workers, or longshoremen and harbor workers injured when dealing with a vessel. Harbor workers and longshoremen are protected during other work related incidents by the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Act, which is a separate area of maritime law.

Essentially, the Act protects seamen and their rights from negligence on the part of ship owners, captains and even other crewmembers, providing them with the right to make claims and collect compensation in these instances.

Injuries sustained by workers have a direct, immediate impact on their livelihoods, quality of life and ability to support their families and meet financial obligations. Seamen injured in an accident through no fault of their own have the right to redress that injury and recoup medical costs and lost wages. Jones Act attorneys can represent you if you have been injured through no fault of your own, and can fight for your rights.

Potential Injury Types

Any number of injuries can be sustained aboard a vessel, and can cause pain and suffering, as well as time and wages lost for the injured individual. Some of the injuries covered under the Jones Act include the following:

  • Slips and falls
  • Machinery-related incidents
  • Lack of maintenance related incidents
  • Poor condition or “conducive” conditions
  • Negligence

The challenge here is proving that the captain, ship owner or crewmember was negligent in their responsibilities. Only an experienced Jones Act attorney well versed in the intricacies of maritime law has the expertise and capabilities to take such a claim to court.

In addition to the difficulty in proving negligence, the injured worker must also fall within the guidelines of the Jones Act. For instance, the rule of thumb here is that the injured party must spend at least 30% of his or her employment time aboard a vessel to be covered by the Act. New hires do not fall into this category, though, as they are hired with the intention of them providing services as a seaman.

At the law offices of Casey D. Shomo, our Jones Act Lawyers have successfully represented seamen and others in the maritime industry and we have the experience, knowledge and expertise to help with your case. If you have been injured aboard ship through no fault of your own, contact us for a consultation on your situation.