The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is an essential piece of legislation that is the fundamental basis of the maritime industry. Also known as the Jones Act, it protects seamen, fishermen, platform workers, and others who work on the water. It is generally similar to how personal injury laws on land apply, providing legal avenues for victims of negligence to secure compensation while working on the water.
Notable things to know about this law include:
- Vessels: Those that fall under the Jones Act have 75% ownership by a U.S.-based company and 75% crewed by American sailors.
- Seamen: The Jones Act applies to nearly a half-million people who work on a Jones Act vessel at least 30% of the time.
- A ship must be engaged in commerce or “in navigation”: The ship cannot be dry-docked or not operating, but it also need not be continually at sea.
- Statute of limitations: Injured victims have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim.
- Proving the claim: The victims and their attorney must prove that negligence played a role in the injury, which is a lower threshold of proof than personal injury claims, which stipulate that the negligence caused the injury.
Not sure if you qualify?
The condition of each injury covered by the Jones Act is a little different. If the above details generally outline the circumstances, it advisable to consult with a maritime law attorney who handles this highly specialized practice area.