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Jones Act: What is it?

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Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, Jones act is a statute that promotes and maintains the merchant marine of the United States of America. The Jones Act requires the transportation of passengers and goods to the United States by water to be done in ships that are owned, crewed and made in the U.S. Furthermore, the Jones Act also supplies additional rights to sailors such as the ability to seek damages from the employer or ship owner, captain and crews in cases of injury. The statute was introduced by Senator Wesley Jones. This act has been revised several times and in 2015, Senator John McCain filed for an amendment for this act which results to its annulment

The Jones Act of 1917 is not to be confused with Jones Act of 1916. The latter is a statute which announces the United States’ intention to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippines once a stable government has been established whereas the former is the Merchant Marine Act.

Purposes of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920

Essentially, the main purpose of the Jones Act is to protect the United States. The protection of the national security of the United States as well as its shipbuilding industry is evident from the mandate of the statute. Although the act requires vessels to be U.S.-flagged, cases of emergency may allow exemption of this law.

Another major purpose of the Jones Act is its instrumental role in protecting injured offshore workers. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 allows injured or ill offshore workers to be compensated when negligence is found in the part of their employer or co-offshore worker while working on an oil rig or vessel. In order to recover damages, an offshore injury lawyer must file litigation for past losses and injuries along with future capacity in earning as well as quality medical treatment. Legal aid in situations like these are imperative and we strongly urge you to seek counsel with a specialized attorney. The benefits of personal injury legal support will greatly outweigh the associated costs. 

Offshore injury lawyers may help injured offshore workers with their claim in order to maximize benefits for recovery. In cases wherein the benefits of care and maintenance are improperly denied, there can be additional damages awarded.

The main reason why maritime injury law was established was because employers have long been known to take advantage of the situation experienced by offshore workers who are injured at sea. Thus, offshore injury lawyers have come into the picture to achieve a just settlement.

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Although the Jones Act aims to fully protect the national security and shipbuilding industry of the United States, emergency cases like that of natural disasters allow for exemption of this law and in turn, foreign ships and their respective countries may take advantage of this exemption. And this is exactly what is happening.

The Jones Act has its pros and cons; however, the U.S. government should take time in deciding whether or not to annul or amend it as its benefits may outweigh its disadvantages. Protection of the national security and the rights of offshore workers are still, undeniably, a big deal.