The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act, is a federal statute that protects seamen who get injured on the job, specifically by giving them the right to sue their employer for personal injury or negligence damages.
For purposes of the Jones Act, some terminologies are assigned their appropriate definitions:
- Seaman. Refers to a person, who spends a significant amount of time on a vessel or on a specific fleet of vessel (working as a crewmember or a captain on a vessel) that is considered “in navigation.”
- Vessel In Navigation. This refers to any type of vessel or boat that is afloat, in operation, capable of moving and on navigable waters (does not include: a vessel that is in a drydock or out of the water up on blocks; oil drilling platforms; a newly built vessel that is still undergoing sea trials; and, floating casino barges). By “navigable waters,” this can refer to a river or lake which can be used for interstate or foreign commerce (such as the ocean and landlocked lakes but only if these extend to another state or are connected to a river that flows into another state).
- Significant Amount of Time. A person should spend at least 30% of his/her employment time on a vessel in order to qualify as a seaman. Thus, a person who works 70% of the time in the office and the remaining 30% on a vessel can be considered a seaman.
The Jones Act strictly requires maritime employers to:
- Provide seamen with a reasonably safe place to work; and,
- Use ordinary care, under any circumstances, to keep and maintain the vessel, on which a seaman works, in a reasonably safe condition. Any unsafe condition on a vessel can lead to liability under the Jones Act and, in the event of injury, the injured seaman needs only prove that his/her employer’s negligence was a contributory factor to the events that resulted to his/her injuries in order for him/her to recover damages against his/her Jones Act employer.
As explained by a San Diego Jones Act attorney, numerous men and women are injured or killed each year while out at sea due to negligent or careless employers or co-workers, who make the sea much more dangerous. Injuries resulting to these negligent acts gives the injured the right to pursue legal action which will allow them to seek financial compensation.
Commercial fishing and aquaculture is an extremely lucrative business for companies on the eastern seaboard and gulf coasts. Oil companies also take advantage of offshore drilling in these areas. Close proximity to bodies of water also gives people an opportunity to enjoy, floating, boating, fishing, and water sports. Lakes and rivers are popular destinations for people enjoying vacations and holiday weekends. According to boating resource websites, the ten most popular states for boating and water recreation are Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina, New York, Louisiana, Washington, Delaware, Michigan, and Minnesota.
Unfortunately, boating accidents account for many of the injuries that happen in bodies of water. The majority of these boating accidents are caused by drivers that are under the influence. BUI accidents often result in serious injury and sometimes death since boats provide little external protection for passengers. The Boating Safety Resource Center (BSRC), a division of the U.S. Coast Guard, cites July as the most deadly month for boating accidents. The BSRC mentions that in addition to alcohol use, other common factors that contribute to boating crashes are operator inattention, operation inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and navigation rules violation.
Additional complications from boating often result from mechanical failure or defective parts. According to the website of Habush, Habush, and Rottier S.C. ®, whenever someone sustains a personal injury due to an accident, the recovery process can be expensive and frustrating. If injury occurs due to someone else’s negligence, injured parties can be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and time spent away from work. In these cases, people will hire a lawyer to claim the money that they deserve.