For those working at sea — such as the crew of a cargo freighter — injuries are often treated a bit differently than those on land. You may be wondering what the Jones Act does and why there is any difference, as these are still workplace injuries. Let’s break down some of the issues at hand.
Giving workers rights
One big issue is that workers needed a way to sue their employers if they were injured on the job, especially if the vessel they were on was dangerous, if it lacked seaworthiness and if they believed that the employer caused the injuries in this fashion. There are many comparisons to specific laws for railroad workers. The railroad and the shipping industry are two of the main ways that goods move across the United States and the world, and these workers needed protection. Maritime workers got it through the Jones Act.
Using federal courts
When someone decides to sue under the Jones Act, it typically goes to a federal court. There are cases where state courts get involved, but they’re less common. This helps to address the needs of these injured workers wherever they are. After all, an injury on the water may not distinctly happen in any state, but workers still need to know how their rights are defined. Rather than leaving this up to state laws, they are covered with the Jones Act.
All injury sources
The Jones Act also allows workers to seek compensation from all potential sources of that injury or the negligence that caused it. This may not just be an employer. It could also include other workers on the ship or the owner of that ship.
In short, these are complex cases that happen in a high-risk industry and often take place far from specific state land. The Jones Act helps to streamline the process and define workers’ rights. Be sure you know what yours are if you have been injured.