Abbott Clay & Reed

What, exactly, is the Jones Act?

In Jones Act History on May 27, 2009 at 8:05 AM

If you work in any maritime profession, on board a ship or on an oil platform then there is a good chance that you’ve heard the term the “Jones Act”, but might be slightly unsure as to what that refers to. Sometimes the Jones Act is referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, as it was originally called, but is usually just referred to as the Jones Act. It is important to note that this is a federal law that applies to any state that you might be working on a sea born vessel in.

The Jones Act exists to ensure that there is a system of compensation in place in the case of an injury to a sailor or other maritime employee. This is similar to the systems that are in place for workers compensation in other jobs, however, the Jones Act is Federal rather than State Based, and is actually quite complex compared to regular workers compensation laws. Also, it is important to realize that settlements reached under the Jones Act have the potential to be much larger than other settlements in the case of worker injury in non sea related fields, something which makes companies often struggle very severely to avoid having to make a payout under the act.

The Jones Act may pay out what is known as both maintenance and cure benefits. This means that it may cover the medical expenses that a worker incurs as a result of their on the job injury, and will also make payments in order to cover their normal living expenses. These expenses need to be carefully proven and documented, and that need coupled with the complexity of the act itself makes it highly advisable for anyone making a Jones Act claim to hire a lawyer who specializes in Maritime Law before filing any kind of initial claim.  


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