Jones Act Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Jones Act, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Jones Act?

It refers to the federal law on the rights of the sailors who are injured due to the negligence of their employers while they were in maritime service.They thereby get the right to be tries by the jury for justice and compansation.

History and Meaning of Jones Act

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law passed by the United States Congress. It provides a legal framework for the protection and compensation of sailors who are injured or killed while working at sea. Enacted in response to the country's need for a strong commercial maritime industry after World War I, the act requires that all vessels carrying goods between U.S. ports be owned, built, and operated by U.S. citizens, thus protecting American jobs.

Additionally, the Jones Act also allows injured sailors (such as fishermen, cargo operators, and crew members) to file a legal claim and initiate a lawsuit against their employers due to negligence on the job. As such, the act provides benefits such as maintenance and cure, which entitles the injured seamen to medical treatment and wages while recovering.

Examples of Jones Act

  1. A fishing boat crew member falls overboard and suffers a serious injury due to the negligence of the ship's captain. The crew member can file a Jones Act lawsuit against the captain.

  2. A seaman onboard a vessel operated by a foreign shipping company is injured and claims compensation under the Jones Act. However, the foreign company argues that the Jones Act does not apply because the vessel is not owned, built or operated by U.S. citizens.

  3. A cargo ship operated by a U.S. shipping company suffers damage in a storm while transporting goods between two American ports. The company can get compensation from damages incurred under the Jones Act.

Legal Terms Similar to Jones Act

  1. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act: A federal law that protects workers who are injured or disabled while working on navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas.

  2. Death on the High Seas Act: A federal law that provides compensation for the families of seamen who die as a result of negligence or unseaworthiness of a vessel on the high seas.

  3. Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act: A federal law that extends the benefits of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act to offshore oil and gas platform workers.