How the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 May Impact A Maritime Injury Claim


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The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is a law that protects injured maritime workers, whom a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer can represent.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, is important legal protection for maritime workers. Prior to the enactment of this law, maritime workers had little recourse when they were injured at work, and now this law helps seamen recover damages after a serious accident. Those who are injured can consult a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer for help pursuing compensation and benefits.

This law primarily focuses on commercial shipping and transit jobs and is important to Louisiana seamen. The Port of New Orleans district is one of the busiest ports for commerce in the United States, where over 72 million short tons of cargo passed in 2010.

The Necessity of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920

In the earlier days of maritime work, the seamen who risked their lives on commercial ships had little legal recourse if they were injured because of the carelessness of coworkers or negligence of employers. Because accidents often took place on open waters, they were not protected by state injury laws, and general maritime law only provided for limited benefits.

In 1920 the Merchant Marine Act was passed which gave seamen more rights to file lawsuits against their employers. Section 8 requires investigations of ports, terminals and warehouse facilities for safety and security compliance. This measure intends to reduce accidents caused by faulty equipment, hazardous conditions, and neglected facilities.

Later sections regulate the safe repair and operation of vessels, which is also a provision that may help protect maritime workers from injury. Most importantly, there is Section 33, which provides the most commonly referenced admiralty law that protects injured maritime workers. A Louisiana Jones Act lawyer can help workers recover compensation under this part of the Act.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 also protects U.S. commerce and economic development by requiring that shipping trade and vessels are majorly associated with U.S. entities. Vessels must be registered and built (or rebuilt) in the U.S. and at least 75 percent owned, staffed and controlled by a U.S.-based company and employees.

Who and What the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 Covers

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 protects maritime workers who are employed on a vessel and injured because of an accident caused by an employer's or ship owner's negligence. Unlike maintenance and cure benefits that last until what is known as the “maximum medical improvement,” filing a lawsuit under the Jones Act may allow recovery of more substantial damages to cover the full amount of the worker's expenses and losses.

While maintenance and cure benefits are available regardless of fault, a lawsuit under the Jones Act must establish negligent. This is where a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer may be very helpful, as proving fault may require evidence collection, building a strong case, and legal arguments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Timothy Young
Maritime and admiralty lawyer Timothy J. Young graduated cum laude from Tulane Law School in 1993. Licensed to practice in both Louisiana and Texas, he is an active member of the American Association for Justice and the Louisiana Association for Justice, including the admiralty sections of both associations. Mr. Young has given talks to lawyers in other states regarding the practice of maritime law.

At The Young Firm, our maritime and admiralty attorneys are dedicated to providing superior legal counsel to clients injured as a result of another party's reckless, careless, or negligent conduct. We meticulously prepare each case and are committed to protecting the rights of the catastrophically injured. For more than 50 years, our attorneys have been focusing on the practice of maritime/admiralty law.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.