Jones Act

Jones Act

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Jones Act

What is the Jones Act?
Passed in 1920 as a United States Federal statute, the Merchant Marine Act regulates maritime commerce in American ports and U.S. waters. Section 27–arguably the most notable provision of the legislation–known as the Jones Act, deals with cabotage (coastal shipping) and imposes requirements for all goods transported by water between American ports. 
The Jones Act specifically regulates merchant American ships; to fall under the act’s enforcement powers, the ship in question must be constructed in the United States, owned by American citizens, and operated by a crew of American citizens or permanent residents. The purpose of the Jones Act is to support the United States’ maritime industry. 
In addition to creating the framework of the merchant industry and the regulations for which goods can be shipped between U.S. ports, the Jones Act gave way to the creation of Jones Law. 
Preamble to the Jones Act
The Preamble of the Jones Act states that is necessary–for the nation’s defense and growth of its foreign and domestic commerce–that the United States implement an effective merchant marine division. The industry should utilize efficient vessels that are well equipped to serve as a military auxiliary in the time of a national emergency or war. Furthermore, the ships should be best equipped to carry the greater portion of its commerce. 

Maritime Injuries and Jones Law
The maritime industry is particularly dangerous; maritime workers face an assortment of risks that can lead to on-the-job injuries. These risks, given the nature of life at sea, are rarely met with adequate medical services. 
Because of this catch-22, Jones Law was developed to establish special legal remedies to help insure injured maritime workers obtain appropriate care and compensation following injury. If you are a merchant marine worker and suffer a work-related injury, qualified lawyers can help elucidate Jones Law and protect your legal rights.
Jones Law permits injured maritime workers to seek compensation for injuries sustained while on the job. The act enables seaman to collect compensation for any work-related injury that was precipitated by negligence on part of their co-workers or employers. 
The Jones Act reflects the dangers of maritime work, by holding the worker’s employer liable for breaches of duty which perpetuate or cause the injury.  In addition to the delivery of compensation for negligence, an injured maritime worker may also file a claim against the vessel’s owner on the grounds that the ship was not safe to undertake the particular task. Additionally, the employer may also be liable for failing to provide maritime workers adequate medical care aboard the ship. Regardless of the charges brought against the owner or commander of the ship, Jones Act litigation seeks to obtain damages for both past and future losses (both economic and non-economic).
What Constitutes an Unseaworthy Vessel?
Owners of sea vessels are required to provide an absolute duty to merchant marine employees. Because of this obligation, the vessel must be checked and re-checked to ensure that is safe for travel. The fact that a vessel does not display any signs of imminent danger does not mean it is necessarily worthy of sea travel. A vessel may only be classified as seaworthy if it is fit for it equipped with appropriate resources, safety gear and equipment. Furthermore, the vessel must have a competent crew and be regarded as a safe place to live and work. 
Although a sea vessel can be adequate for travel on shore, it can be downgraded during the voyage. That being said, the operator of the vessel must implement a sound protocol to properly upkeep the vessel. Claims that a vessel is not fit for voyage are typically filed as a Jones Act claim. 
Jones Law’s Maintenance and Cure Provision:
When a maritime worker (relates only to seamen) is injured on a ship, regardless of liability issues, the worker has a legal right to “maintenance and cure” provisions. The maintenance and cure policy of Jones Law awards benefits similar to those found in traditional workers’ compensation law. 
The “maintenance” portion of Jones Law is a daily allowance, typically between $20 and $40 per day. This allowance is awarded to injured workers to offset the losses associated with missed work—the payments cover the food and shelter that the injured worker would have received had he or she been onboard the vessel. 
The “cure” portion of Jones law represents the employer’s obligation to provide injured workers with appropriate medical services, including rehabilitation and hospitalization, until the injured worker is fully recovered. It must be noted that the obligation to provide maintenance and cure ceases to exist when the maritime worker reaches a full recovery.
All maritime workers who sustain injuries while on the job have absolute rights to obtain maintenance and cure—this right is detached from a Jones Act filing. If a maritime worker has a valid Jones Act claim, the individual may be able to recover substantial rewards for damages sustained in addition to receiving the full benefits of the maintenance and cure provision. 
The Rights of Seaman:
The United States Congress adopted the Jones Act (as part of the Merchant Marine Act) in 1920 and formally codified the legislation in October of 2006. The Jones Act Maritime law allows injured sailors to file actions against their employers and ship owners based on claims of negligence or unseaworthiness. The Jones Law maritime act enables injured seamen to collect compensatory funds from their employers, including fellow members of the crew and their respective captain. 
The Jones Act Maritime Law states that any sailor who suffers personal injury during the course of his/her employment may maintain an action for damages, with the right to a trial by jury. Furthermore, the Jones Act maritime states that all claims for compensation are regulated or enforced by statutes of the United States. These statutes can modify or extend the worker’s common-law right to remedy the personal injury case.
The Cabotage Provision of the Jones Act:
The cabotage provision of the Jones Act restricts the carriage of goods (or passengers) shipped or transferred via vessels between American ports to U.S. constructed and flagged ships. The Cabotage provision of the jones act states that at least 75% of a crew’s workers must be citizens of the United States. Moreover, the cabotage provision restricts the amount of steel used during foreign repairs on the hull and structure of the ship—the provision limits the amount of foreign steel to 10 percent by weight. This aspect of the provision simply prevents American ship owners from repairing their ships at overseas yards. 
Title 46, U.S. Code
Subtitle III
Chapter 301
§ 30101. Extension of jurisdiction to cases of damage or injury on land
(a) In General.— The admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States extends to and includes cases of injury or damage, to person or property, caused by a vessel on navigable waters, even though the injury or damage is done or consummated on land.
(b) Procedure.— A civil action in a case under subsection (a) may be brought in rem or in personam according to the principles of law and the rules of practice applicable in cases where the injury or damage has been done and consummated on navigable waters.
(c) Actions Against United States.—
(1) Exclusive remedy.— In a civil action against the United States for injury or damage done or consummated on land by a vessel on navigable waters, chapter 309 or 311 of this title, as appropriate, provides the exclusive remedy.
(2) Administrative claim.— A civil action described in paragraph (1) may not be brought until the expiration of the 6-month period after the claim has been presented in writing to the agency owning or operating the vessel causing the injury or damage.
§ 30102. Liability to passengers
(a) Liability.— The owner and master of a vessel, and the vessel, are liable for personal injury to a passenger or damage to a passenger’s baggage caused by—
(1) a neglect or failure to comply with part B or F of subtitle II of this title; or
(2) a known defect in the steaming apparatus or hull of the vessel.
(b) Not Subject to Limitation.— A liability imposed under this section is not subject to limitation under chapter 305 of this title.
§ 30103. Liability of master, mate, engineer, and pilot
A person may bring a civil action against a master, mate, engineer, or pilot of a vessel, and recover damages, for personal injury or loss caused by the master’s, mate’s, engineer’s, or pilot’s—
(1) negligence or willful misconduct; or
(2) neglect or refusal to obey the laws governing the navigation of vessels.
§ 30104. Personal injury to or death of seamen
(a) Cause of Action.— A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer. Laws of the United States regulating recovery for personal injury to, or death of, a railway employee apply to an action under this section.
(b) Venue.— An action under this section shall be brought in the judicial district in which the employer resides or the employer’s principal office is located.
§ 30105. Restriction on recovery by non-citizens and non-resident aliens for incidents in waters of other countries
(a) Definition.— In this section, the term “continental shelf” has the meaning given that term in article I of the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf.
(b) Restriction.— Except as provided in subsection (c), a civil action for maintenance and cure or for damages for personal injury or death may not be brought under a maritime law of the United States if—
(1) the individual suffering the injury or death was not a citizen or permanent resident alien of the United States at the time of the incident giving rise to the action;
(2) the incident occurred in the territorial waters or waters overlaying the continental shelf of a country other than the United States; and
(3) the individual suffering the injury or death was employed at the time of the incident by a person engaged in the exploration, development, or production of offshore mineral or energy resources, including drilling, mapping, surveying, diving, pipelaying, maintaining, repairing, constructing, or transporting supplies, equipment, or personnel, but not including transporting those resources by a vessel constructed or adapted primarily to carry oil in bulk in the cargo spaces.
(c) Nonapplication.— Subsection (b) does not apply if the individual bringing the action establishes that a remedy is not available under the laws of—
(1) the country asserting jurisdiction over the area in which the incident occurred; or
(2) the country in which the individual suffering the injury or death maintained citizenship or residency at the time of the incident.
§ 30106. Time limit on bringing maritime action for personal injury or death
Except as otherwise provided by law, a civil action for damages for personal injury or death arising out of a maritime tort must be brought within 3 years after the cause of action arose.

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