About The Jones Act

The Jones Act is a claim for payments caused by damages sustained at sea.  It is a federal law that covers injuries sustained to a ship’s crew while at sea, gives federal courts jurisdiction, and sets up a number of rules about the conduct of these cases under the maritime law.

A statistic provided by the United States Coast Guard demonstrates that in 2011 there were 4,588 accidents accounting for 758 deaths, 3,081 injuries and approximately $52 million in property damages resulting from recreational boating accidents alone.


History of the Jones Act

In 1920, the Jones Act was enacted as a way to protect sailors for injuries or deaths caused by the negligence of an owner, master, or another sailor on the vessel.  Before the passing of the Jones Act in 1920, sailors had no right to receive compensation for any injuries or deaths which occurred on the vessel, which was mainly due to courts protecting employers rather than the employees.

Up until the 20th century, sailor’s rights were rather limited. During this time, if a sailor was injured by another sailor or the master of the ship, there was no chance of the sailor winning any type of verdict or settlement.  Of course, there were several historic moments that helped influence Congress to give legal rights to sailors.

In 1912, the unsinkable Titanic sunk, which gave a greater public awareness to those at sea. Soon after, there were concerns about merchant marines during World War 1. This would ultimately lead to the passing of the Merchant Marine Act in of 1920, which is more commonly known as the Jones Act. From this time on there were dozens of Jones Act suits filed in the southern states.


About The Jones Act

To fall within the Jones Act, ships transporting merchandise between ports in the US are required to be built, operated, owned, and manned by citizens of the United States and registered under the American flag. The law is applied to any vessel which operates between US ports, in the continental United States or Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

The Jones Act industry has grown to account for $14 billion in annual economic output, 84,000 jobs in shipyards across the US, 70,000 jobs on or with Jones Act vessels, and over 39,000 vessels which represent a $30 billion investment.

This act is implemented by the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard oversees ship building, rebuilding, and repair, along with reviewing necessary ownership structure to ensure everything complies with the Jones Act.


Causes of Marine Injuries

Working on commercial ships, fishing ships in particular, is one of the most dangerous professions available in the United States.  Each year there are dozens of injuries and deaths which may have many different causes. In some instances, the causes of injury could be caused be the individual; however in other cases the causes may be unavoidable.

Some common causes of marine injuries include (but are not limited to):

  • Falling overboard
  • Fatigued sailors
  • In contact with toxins
  • Lifting heavy items
  • Overuse injuries
  • Pushing or pulling items
  • Re-surfacing too fast
  • Slip, trip, and falls
  • Struck by moving object
  • Trapped by moving object

Depending on the cause of the marine injury, it can lead to a variety of different types of injuries. These injuries may also be more severe than others, also depending on the circumstances.


Types of Maritime Personal Injury

After recognizing a few causes of injuries, it becomes evident that there will likely be severe injuries associated with these causes. Of course, the severity of the injury will usually depend on a number of factors which caused the injury such as; speed of travel, people involved, force of an impact, etc.

Some common causes of injuries include (but are not limited to):