Abbott Clay & Reed

The Origination of the Jones Act

In Jones Act Law on April 22, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Many of our nation’s individuals make their living working on the boats and ships that travel our oceans and waterways. The unfortunate fact is that so many of these individuals are not aware of the laws that have been enacted to protect them. The Jones Act was established to protect maritime workers when they are injured or killed on the job if negligence can be established.

The Jones Act was signed into federal law in 1920 because of the growing negligence of the employers of the time. The law enables maritime workers who are hurt while completing their duties to sue their employers to be properly compensated for their injury. However, the Act can only be enforceable if the injury was caused due to the negligence of an employer to properly maintain the vessel or if the injury could have been prevented if the captain or another crew member had not been negligent. However, the truth is that many individuals are injured for exactly those reasons.

Prior to the Jones Act being established, seamen had no chance of suing their employer and winning. The main reason for this was because, at that time, they had to prove negligence of the owner of the ship and not the negligence of another crew member or shipmaster. When the law was examined more closely, specifically between the years of 1903-1918 when the law was challenged, it was decided by Congress that something had to be done to change what was already in place.

Although some minor adjustments and more clearly defining insertions have been made since this time, the Jones Act that was set into law in 1920 is the one that still governs the rights of injured seamen today. If you are a maritime employee, you should become familiar with the Jones Act. This law could quite possibly provide for you and your family if you should ever become injured while performing your maritime duties.


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