The Jones Act is part of the broader Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The Jones Act itself contains a number of requirements for the owner and operator of certain watercraft carrying American goods and using crew members from the United States. These include certain rights afforded to so-called seamen or crew members on a covered watercraft, including sailors from Louisiana.
Specific rights under Jones Act
The primary right afforded to seamen or crew members of covered watercraft under the Jones Act is the ability to sue an employer if injured at sea. This makes it different than what generally is the case with workers’ compensation. A personal representative is lawfully able to bring a claim for a seaman or crew member that is killed during the course of his or her employment while at sea.
If an employer’s negligence caused an injury of a sailor, the victim is able to claim damages. Negligence under the Jones Act can come in any number of forms, including faulty equipment, unsafe directives or instructions, and failure to provide a crew member with proper medical care and treatment when at sea.
Limitations on compensable damages
The Jones Act contains a provision that can significantly limit the amount of money available to pay compensation to injured sailors or crew members after a catastrophic accident at sea. The potential exists that the amount of compensation in such an event may be limited to the value of the vessel on which the accident in question occurred.