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Hurricane Florence Renews Jones Act Debate

The Jones Act is once again in the news, following Hurricane Florence’s devastating march through the Carolinas.

Shortly after the historic storm laid waste to much of the state, transportation officials in North Carolina requested that a U.S. government-owned vessel, the MV Cape Ray, be used to transport supplies to the port of Wilmington, a city which had been cut-off by the massive flooding that accompanied Florence.

The Jones Act mandates that any ship transporting goods between two points in the United States be U.S.-owned, crewed, flagged, and built.

Though the Cape Ray was built in Japan, its status as a U.S. government-owned vessel meant that it would be able to bring much-needed aid to Wilmington.

The Debate Over the Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – known popularly as the Jones Act – was enacted to create a safe network of merchant mariners within the United States after World War I, when the nation’s fleet had been destroyed by the German navy.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Jones Act since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year.

President Trump briefly suspended the Jones Act for Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria. But critics maintain that this complex legislation continues to be a drag on the island’s economy and its recovery. Many have called for its complete termination.

However, supporters of the Jones Act assert that protecting the U.S. shipping industry is a net positive for the economy. They further argue that abolishing the Jones Act could allow control of the nation’s ports, as well as domestic shipping and shipbuilding, to fall into the hands of a foreign country.

The Jones Act Protects the Safety and Rights of Maritime Workers

Unfortunately, the current debate surrounding the Jones Act hasn’t focused on any of the very important provisions that govern the maritime industry’s responsibilities to the safety and well-being of offshore workers, including crew members, deckhands, longshoremen, stevedores, and others who are employed in or around navigable waters.

Among other things, the Act requires maritime employers to maintain safe environments and provide medical care to their crew. It also sets standards for vessel maintenance, lifeboats and other safety equipment, and crew qualifications, training and licensing.

Most importantly, the Jones Act protects the rights of injured maritime workers and ensures that they aren’t exploited.

For example, under the Act, seaman injured on the job are entitled to certain benefits while they recover, regardless of  fault. These benefits include:

  • Maintenance: Reasonable expenses for room and board while ashore, either until the injured worker is once again fit for duty or until the maximum benefit is reached.
  • Cure: Medical expenses for injury-related treatments, either until the worker is fit for duty or until maximum cure is reached.
  • Unearned wages until the end of the voyage.

Finally, the Jones Act allows injured maritime workers to sue their employer in state or federal court when an employer’s negligence caused or contributed to their injuries.

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In addition to being undefeated, our Experienced Jones Act Attorneys have won over $1 billion and successfully represented thousands of maritime workers in connection with the largest offshore accidents and explosions in history.

If you or a loved one were injured while working offshore, and you have questions about the Jones Act and your legal options moving forward, please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

All consultations are free, and because we only work for a contingency fee, you’ll pay nothing unless we win your case.