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The Jones Act is important for Merchant Marine safety

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is an act that protects people who are hurt at sea while working. These individuals may not be qualified for workers' compensation under maritime law, so the Jones Act is there to make sure they're covered if something goes wrong. It gives them the right to pursue a lawsuit against an employer in the case of injury.

The people covered by the Jones Act include masters, officers, captains and crew members who work on a vessel at least 30 percent of their work time. The vessel must be in navigation to fall under the requirements of the law.

What is "in navigation?"

Vessels in navigation include those that are capable of moving, afloat and operational. They must also be on navigable waters. Even a ship or vessel that is tied to a dock is technically a vessel in navigation, since it could be released from the dock and move out to sea.

The Jones Act protects those at sea by requiring mariners' employers to provide a safe working environment. If negligence leads to injuries, then the employee may seek compensation from the employer through a lawsuit.

Some common examples of unsafe conditions include asking workers to use poorly maintained equipment, not providing sufficient training for the crew or captain or being assaulted by a crew member. While a ship's deck might become wet or slick naturally, any slippery substances or oil on the deck is generally a result of negligence or a failure to clean up after a spill and could result in a lawsuit.

If you're hurt at sea or in a maritime accident, you may also be able to file a claim under the Jones Act. Your attorney can tell you more about this important law.

Source: FindLaw, "The Jones Act and Merchant Marines," accessed July 28, 2017

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