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What is the Jones Act?

Every occupation comes with certain related risks and hazards. For the men and women who work aboard barges, ocean liners, commercial fishing ships and other sea vessels; the inherent dangers are often more numerous and significant in nature. In cases where a man or woman, who works aboard a sea vessel and aid's in the "fulfillment of the vessel's mission," is injured while working; he or she may take legal action to recover compensation under a federal law known as the Jones Act.

The Jones Act protects the rights of injured seamen to take action against an employer for negligent acts or actions that may have caused or contributed to a seaman's injuries. Compensation sought under a Jones Act lawsuit can help account for lost earning capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.

A key component of the Jones Act explicitly states that an individual must meet certain requirements related to the location at which an injury occurred and an individual's position or status at the time an injury occurred. For example, a dockworker or longshoreman cannot seek legal protections under the Jones Act because they complete work duties on land and not while at sea.

Additionally, simply being injured while aboard a sea vessel does not mean that a worker will be able to file a Jones Act lawsuit. Even in cases where an individual is injured while working on a temporary basis aboard a vessel, the courts may determine that the individual does not meet the definition of a seaman due to the determination that he or she performs most work duties on land.

Due to the complex requirements and restrictions related to the Jones Act, individuals who are injured while working aboard a sea vessel of any sort are advised to contact an attorney for guidance and assistance.

Source:, "Jones Act Overview," Aug. 27, 2015

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