As you may know, there is a national shortage of truck drivers. Why is this important to maritime law? It’s ships that may need to take over transportation on America’s waterways.
New drivers aren’t joining the trucking field, and that means that there needs to be other ways to transport goods around the country. Shipping goods on vessels is one option.
What some people suggest should happen is a repeal of the Jones Act. This law from the 1920s mandates that any ship transporting goods between two points in America has to be owned, crewed, built and flagged domestically. The problem with this is that it creates no competition, since there is no allowance for foreign transportation within U.S.-to-U.S. docks.
High costs are a result of having no competition, which spurred further use of transportation through trucking and train transport. Repealing the Jones Act isn’t all good, though.
If the Jones Act was to be repealed, it would mean that sailors could lose some rights to hold the crew, ship owner or captain liable in the case of injury. The Act has been criticized in the past and may continue to be in the future, but it does draw concern with those who might be injured while doing work on domestic ships.
Repealing the Jones Act is something that could happen in the future, and since it’s something that affects you, you should stay ahead of any changes. Keep in mind that changes could affect your ability to seek compensation if you get hurt on the job, but only time will tell.