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Is the Jones Act still necessary in America?

Some people question why the Jones Act is still necessary over 100 years after its conception. The president at the time, President Woodrow Wilson, created the law that evolved into what’s today known as the Jones Act. It has been integral in the U.S. shipping industry, especially as our country recovered following World War I.

Today, it’s still doing its part to protect American industry. The Act requires goods moving between two U.S. points be carried on American vessels. Those vessels need to have been created by Americans and have to be owned by Americans. On top of that, the crew must be American.

This simple requirement helps preserve around 650,000 jobs in America. While some would like to have this law altered or removed completely, doing so would open the ports up to foreign interests, which may not benefit American workers.

The Jones Act also provides workers who are injured while on the job the right to sue their employer. This is not the same as workers’ compensation, which these workers are unable to seek under federal or state law. This is unique to the industry.

Workers who are harmed during a maritime accident can pursue a claim against their employers for medical care as well as other benefits. They may be able to recover:

  • Funeral or burial expenses as a family member of the deceased
  • Loss of financial support as a family member of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering (workers)
  • Reimbursement for medical bills related to the accident (workers)
  • Lost wages in the past and future (workers)

The Jones Act covers seamen. If you’re not sure if you qualify, you may want to learn more about your rights under the Jones Act.