What is the Jones Act and How Does it Help Me?  


There are a lot of things to consider when talking about the specifics of ocean law. The Jones Act, or The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is one of the most important maritime laws ever passed in the United States. If you aren’t fully aware of the history behind this act, you may not be fully utilizing the law as you should. Today, our Texas attorneys want to educate you with some background information for The 1920 Jones Act.


As you might expect, The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a federal statute that regulates the merchant marines in America. Passed by Senator Wesley Jones, Section 27 of this act is commonly referred to as The Jones Act. While the entirety of the Merchant Act discusses the regulation of cabotage and the nationalities of merchant marine sailors, the most important section of this law discusses the rights of sailors. In the aftermath of World War I, the government was looking for ways to stimulate the boating and shipping industry. The act updated previous shipping laws from 1789, which define the legal rights of seamen to this day.


Never before had seamen had the ability to claim wrongdoings in a court of law against employers, captains or other members of the crew. In order to be considered a seaman under this law, an individual must spend a great deal of time working in some capacity on vessels that are considered to be ‘in navigation.’ In general, this means that the boat is seaworthy and capable of moving through waters that can be used for foreign or interstate commercial travel. Certain lakes or rivers may also qualify, but many parameters for this are complicated. In order to learn more about specific coverages of The Jones Act, you should contact a maritime attorney in Houston, TX.


Seamen have several rights held under The Jones Act, many of which allow them to make claims based upon their physical damages while on a vessel. These will include:

  • Broken bones or the loss of a limb
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Crushed, lacerated, or cut ligaments
  • Injured spines
  • Exposure to toxic or harmful chemicals

While there are many other kinds of injuries that may occur while at sea, these are some of the most common claims covered under the law.

If you or a loved one has been injured while at sea, call SMS Legal to speak with a maritime attorney in Houston, TX. Our experts on Texas law will provide a free consultation to help inform and educate you on all your necessary legal matters. Fighting for your rights since 1964, at SMS you matter most.