On June 5, 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 into law. The law is sometimes called the Jones Act, after the bill’s author, Sen. Wesley Jones of Washington. The law’s main purpose is to promote and regulate maritime commerce in U.S. waters; in other words, the transportation of goods by ship from one United States port to another. It also guarantees the rights of people injured in accidents onboard U.S. vessels to seek damages for financial losses related to their injuries. The Jones Act has attracted its share of controversy; some of its opponents call for its repeal. If you have been injured while working on a ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig and want to know more about your rights under the Jones Act, contact a Louisiana maritime injury lawyer.
How the Jones Act Affects Your Personal Injury Case
According to the Jones Act, the owner of the ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig is legally responsible to pay maintenance and cure for any injuries that occur on the ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig. If a cause of a seaman’s injury was a negligent action or inaction by the captain or another member of the crew, he/she can file a lawsuit for damages against the employer, usually the vessel owner and operator. The statute of limitations for filing a Jones Act claim for injuries suffered on a ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig in a maritime incident is three years from the date of the incident. Furthermore, a Jones Act seaman on a ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig can assert an unseaworthiness action against the vessel owner and/or operator if his/her injury was caused, in part, by any unseaworthy condition of the ship/boat/vessel/jack-up rig.
The Controversy Surrounding the Jones Act
Almost everyone agrees that the protections afforded to injured seaman in the Jones Act are necessary and beneficial, but some of the other provisions of the law have attracted criticism. Specifically, the Jones Act provides that only U.S. flagged/registered ships/boats/vessels are allowed to transport commercial goods from one U.S. port to another. In other words, only U.S. ships/boats/vessels are allowed to engage in domestic maritime commerce. This requirement in the Jones Act law also applies to ports far from the contiguous United States, such as ports in Alaska and Hawaii; it also applies to overseas territories such as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Some people oppose this aspect of the Jones Act on the grounds that it is more expensive to transport goods to distant territories on U.S. ships/boats/vessels than it would be to transport them on ships/boats/vessels flying the flags of other countries. As recently as 2010, former Senator John McCain and Senator Mike Lee introduced a congressional bill that attempted to repeal aspect of the the Jones Act. Supporters of the Jones Act maintain that requiring goods to be transported between U.S. ports on U.S. ships/boats/vessels protects our economy by creating jobs for U.S. citizens in the maritime industry.
Contact Patrick Yancey About Maritime Accident Cases
The Jones Act is still going strong after 100 years, and a maritime injury lawyer can help you exercise the rights afforded to you under this law. Contact the Law Office of Patrick H. Yancey in Houma, Louisiana to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.