The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is also known as the Jones Act, turned 100 years old this year. It prescribes certain requirements that vessels must meet to be allowed to carry passengers and goods from one U.S. port to the next. There are many pros and cons associated with the Jones Act for both seamen as well as operators.
One ever-popular show on television (TV) is Bravo's Below Deck. In case you haven't watched the program before, it gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to work as a deckhand on a superyacht for the rich and famous. The work that these individuals perform is far from glamorous. In fact, it's downright dangerous. Many of the show's stars have been seriously hurt as they've worked on these vessels.
If you're on a factory floor and a forklift drives over your foot, you know where to go. One should seek medical attention, document the incident and possibly file a claim for workers' compensation. But if a similar thing happens on the deck of a ship in the Long Island Sound, what do you do?
There are many facets to the Jones Act. It aims to protect the United States' political sovereignty and national security and to secure the country's economic welfare. It also protects seamen who become injured while on the job. Certain types of water vessels are protected under the Jones Act.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has long been tracking outer continental shelf worker injuries. The federal agency has required all employers who operate in these waters to report any injuring incidents that caused workers to seek medical attention or miss one or more days from work since July 2006. Some factors cause more offshore worker injuries than others.
If you work in the maritime industry, then it's likely that you've heard about the Jones Act. This federal law's alternate name is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It is a piece of federal legislation that, among other things, protects seamen who are injured on the job.
The maritime industry can present several unique risks and dangers to those in Manhattan who are employed in it. Thus, such workers rely on the Jones Act to afford them the protections needed to feel confident enough to work at sea. Indeed, according to the Cornell Law School, the Jones Act not only allows a maritime worker to collect maintenance and cure benefits to help cover the costs of any injury they sustain while in the service of their vessels, but also to bring legal action against the owners of said vessels if needed. The extent of such protection, however, depends on the type of vessel one works on.
The posts in this blog that reference the Jones Act refer to it in terms of the protections that it provides you as a maritime worker in the event of an injury you sustain while in the service of your vessel. This could make it easy to forget that the Jones Act was part of the larger Merchant Marine Act, whose primary purpose was to build up a merchant fleet sufficient enough to sustain the U.S. and its allies. The complexity of the Act may make it easy to overlook the fact that included within it is the option to waive it.
New York fishermen work for a variety of commercial operators. Some are highly-mechanized ocean-going vessels, while others use a blend of modern and traditional techniques. Commercial fishing is a physically demanding job. Injuries can occur at any time, whether you are in the galley or on deck. At Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP, we often represent clients in maritime accident claims.
People in New York may well see billboards that reference the Jones Act, blaming it for excessive congestion on area roads. This is just one of the more recent efforts initiated by The Cato Institute to push for reform of the nation's laws governing domestic waterways.