The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, has several purposes, and one is to help protect and compensate maritime workers who suffer serious injuries while working at sea. These workers otherwise lack maritime law protections, so the Jones Act gives them a way through which to sue their employers for injuries sustained on the job.
The Jones Act asserts that employers must maintain safe working environments aboard their ships or vessels. It applies to those who meet certain eligibility requirements.
Who the Jones Act covers
The Jones Act covers masters, officers, captains and crew members who spend specific amounts of time working at sea. More specifically, it applies to masters, officers, captains and crew members who spend at least 30% of their on-the-job hours working on a “vessel in navigation” or a group of vessels that share ownership.
What constitutes a “vessel in navigation”
For a ship to be a “vessel in navigation,” it must be on the water, capable of moving and located on navigable waters. The vessel does not necessarily have to be in motion, however. A maritime worker who suffers an injury on a ship tied to a dock may still be able to seek compensation under the terms of the Jones Act.
Maritime workers who wish to pursue compensation under the Jones Act must report their injuries to their supervisors within a specific timeframe. They should also fill out accident reports and seek prompt medical treatment ahead of filing a claim against their employers.