The Jones Act, which is also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that regulates many aspects related to the use of United States merchant marine ships. This includes how they’re utilized either during a national emergency or time of war. Basic details regarding their use are detailed in 46 USC § 50101 and § 50102.
One of the main highlights of 46 USC § 50102 is that all shipments that are transported between one U.S. port and another must be carried by ships bearing the American flag.
Another statute that’s included as part of the act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, also makes all seamen eligible to be covered under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Anyone working as a seamen aboard one of these ships is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit for any injuries they suffer under FELA.
In cases such as this, the injured party is allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer in either the state or federal district court system. Once a case is filed in state court, though, a plaintiff cannot withdraw their state filing and instead file it in federal court.
Another interesting aspect of the Jones Act is that it protects a plaintiff’s right to a jury trial in personal injury cases. This deviates from the norm. Most maritime law cases are particularly exempt from being tried in front of jury.
If you’ve suffered a debilitating injury while working as a seaman on a U.S. marine merchant ship, a Gulf Breeze attorney familiar with the Jones Act can advise you of your right to file a lawsuit in your case.
Source: Cornell School of Law, “Jones Act,” accessed May 24, 2018