About the Jones Act

Morrow & Sheppard are privileged to assist seamen, crewmen, and passengers who are injured offshore, on the high seas, or on navigable waterways.

Please click here for a free, confidential consultation with a Houston Jones Act lawyer to discuss your legal rights before they are jeopardized by a corporation, employer, or insurance company.

Jones Act & Maritime Law Questions?

Please click here for answers to common questions regarding the Jones Act, maritime law, and Death on the High Seas Act.

History and Purpose of the Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is commonly referred to as the “Jones Act.” It is named for Wesley Jones, a United States senator from Illinois who sponsored the legislation.

Prior to the Jones Act, in a line of cases beginning with The Osceola in 1903, the United States Supreme Court held that an injured seaman had no remedy against a negligent shipowner or fellow seaman other than maintenance and cure. Instead, a seaman could only recover compensation for injuries based on the unseaworthiness of the ship.

Congress changed all that with the Jones Act. Congress outlined why it was important for the national defense of our country to have a strong maritime industry, which means protecting those who work offshore and on the high seas. Some key provisions of the Jones Act are as follows:

46 U.S. Code § 50101 – Objectives and policy

(a) Objectives.— It is necessary for the national defense and the development of the domestic and foreign commerce of the United States that the United States have a merchant marine—

(1) sufficient to carry the waterborne domestic commerce and a substantial part of the waterborne export and import foreign commerce of the United States and to provide shipping service essential for maintaining the flow of the waterborne domestic and foreign commerce at all times;

(2) capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency;

(3) owned and operated as vessels of the United States by citizens of the United States;

(4) composed of the best-equipped, safest, and most suitable types of vessels constructed in the United States and manned with a trained and efficient citizen personnel; and

(5) supplemented by efficient facilities for building and repairing vessels.

(b) Policy.— It is the policy of the United States to encourage and aid the development and maintenance of a merchant marine satisfying the objectives described in subsection (a).

Seamen’s Rights

The “savings to suitors” clause, 28 U.S.C. § 1333, permits injured maritime and offshore workers to bring Jones Act, maritime law (unseaworthiness), and maintenance and cure claims in a state court lawsuit.

All three claims can be brought at once. An injured mariner does not have to choose between them.

The Jones Act incorporates but expands the rights available to railway employees under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), stating:

46 U.S. C. 688(a) Application of railway employee statutes; Jurisdiction

Any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right of trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common-law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply; and case of death of any seaman as a result of any such personal injury the personal representative of such seaman may maintain an action for damages at law with the right of trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States conferring or regulating the right of action for death in the case of railway employees shall be applicable. . .

Bringing A Jones Act Claim

Investigating and bringing claims under the Jones Act involves complicated legal issues and analysis. If you or a loved one has been injured while working offshore or on a vessel or ship, it is important that you hire an experienced lawyer.

Morrow & Sheppard have unparalleled experience, both as partners at prestigious firms handling maritime cases for corporations, and now as trial attorneys representing the injured.

We also have membership and access to resources of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, arguably the most prestigious maritime law and Jones Act organization in the country.

Please contact us now for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case with a Houston Jones Act attorney.

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