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Archive for the ‘Jones Act History’ Category

What Limitations Does the Jones Act Have?

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law, Maritime on July 15, 2009 at 7:42 PM

While the Jones Act is great in its intentions it does not cover many issues that are surfacing around the world today with maritime law.  Since being put into federal law in 1920, the Jones Acts has undergone much scrutiny as times have changed and we see more people choosing a maritime life.

Initially, this act was designed to give rights to seamen who were serving their country and risking their lives to do so.  This was a law that was passed to protect seamen from shipmasters and other crew members.  While this is great in theory, we see it become outdated due to more people finding a maritime life outside of the military service.

This act was also designed for maritime people that would be out at sea for years.  This means they would never be stepping a foot on land.  This is the very essence of why this act was passed through Congress.  Life on land and life at sea are two completely different things.  People who are living at sea are susceptible to having many issues occur that endanger their lives.  Something needed to be done to make sure that, during these long ventures at sea; people were protected by the rule of law.

People had been asking for a reform for years and, during the 1980s, people were demanding the Supreme Court step in and clearly state who and what this act was covering.  Finally, in 1995, the Supreme Court made a ruling and modernized this – at the time – 75 year old bill.

The definition of a seaman had been reformatted to protect people who were also living on land as well as the sea.  The ruling, known as Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, stated that anyone who was contributing to the livelihood of a vessel would be protected under the Jones Act.  The other side of this coin covered any sea-person as long as they contain a connection with a vessel or group of vessels and maintains a substantial time of labor and duration.

This revise of the Jones Act still leaves a lot of unanswered questions and the only real way to know for sure is to seek consultation from a maritime lawyer.  So, you see, the drawbacks of the Jones Act are a product of the Supreme Court not making the necessary clarifications as to what means what in this ever changing world of maritime law.

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How Many Times Has the Jones Act Been Amended Since Its Creation?

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on July 11, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Since the inception of the Jones Act in 1920 there has been a need for this federal law to be clarified more specifically.  This act does set guidelines for maritime law; however, since the recent advancements in modern day life, there has been a need to reform this law time and time again.

After this bill was passed there was much controversy over how to define seamen and who would be protected by its statutes.  In 1927 Congress tried to clear this controversy up through the passage of the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).  This amendment still left dozens of unanswered questions.  However, it did work to realize sailors were no longer the primary loaders and un-loaders of ships and that dockworkers had taken over this responsibility.  Although this extension now excluded any crew members of vessels so there was still much to decide after this amendment.

This debate would always resurface and lawsuits would arise such as the South Chicago Coal & Dock Co. v. Bassett case which led to Congress passing the declaration of a seaman not being defined if their duties did not pertain to the ships navigation.  This amendment only left more confusion and was begging for another reform.

A court case in 1955, Gianfala v. Texas Co, saw the Supreme Court state the definition of a seaman would be determined by the jury.  The specification of a “seaman” came to include laborers on floating oil drilling platforms and dredges. There was still too much grey area in a very serious matter that was growing with each passing year and the result was an eruption of Jones Act litigation.  This also led to nearly 100,000 Jones Act lawsuits in a ten year period between 1975 and 1985.

In 1995 the Supreme Court would finally make a better conclusion as to the defining of a modern seaman.  But, after a long bout of people demanding a reform for the maritime law, this amendment was still was not enough.

There has been much debate over this matter and until the Supreme Court can clearly define what makes a sailor a sailor there will be controversy surrounding this maritime law.

My Husband Died While Working On the River and I Believe Negligence Was Involved

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law on June 18, 2009 at 7:44 AM

When someone dies while working on a boat or a ship of any kind, there are typically two laws which might apply. There is the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. The Death on the High Seas Act, however, would not apply to someone working on a River, so if, as an example, a woman’s husband were to die while working on a river, the law they would want to pursue would be the Jones Act, which also covers navigable waterways, such as large rivers. The Jones Act also covers injuries sustained while a vessel is docked and not just ships working more than three nautical miles out from shore like the Death on the High Seas Act.

Benefits from the Jones Act are not only payable to the person who is injured while on the vessel. If this were the case, there would be no recourse for the spouse of someone who was killed while working on a vessel, but the truth is that if someone does die while employed on a boat or ship, their spouse does retain the right to file a claim under the Jones Act.

When negligence is suspected in the case of the death of an employee of a boat or a ship, there are other statutes which also come into play, such as the General Maritime Law. Negligence is a very serious charge and, if true, can also entitle you to additional benefits; however, this is a very complicated area of the law. If you have reason to suspect negligence, or for that matter have any need to make a death claim regarding maritime law or the Jones Act, it is very important for you to hire a maritime lawyer or Jones Act specialist in order to ensure that you are treated fairly and that you actually receive the compensation that you are due.

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.