People in Louisiana who work for the Merchant Marine do not have the same type of legal protections that other workers do. Because terrestrial law does not apply to people who work at sea, mariners cannot file workers’ compensation claims. However, mariners can sue their employers after a workplace accident if the employer is at least partially responsible for the accident.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often referred to as the Jones Act, was set up to protect the legal rights of mariners who were injured on the job. The Jones Act protects all mariners who work for private employers in the U.S. Merchant Marine and spend at least 30 percent of their working hours at sea. The Merchant Marine is the name that is given to the fleet of sea vessels that are involved in the importation and exportation of commercial products.
Under the Jones Act, employers in the Merchant Marine are required to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If an accident occurs because a Merchant Marine employer has neglected their safety obligations, the injured mariners may sue the employer. Some of the acts of negligence that could lead to a Jones Act lawsuit include failure to provide safety equipment, failure to maintain equipment, insufficient training and assault by a crew member.
Because mariners are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, pursuing compensation for a work-related accident may require litigation. If a workplace injury caused a mariner to lose many weeks or months of work, an attorney may help to pursue compensation for the lost wages.