Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Jones Act Definition:

A section of a 1920 American law which gave injured sailors, or their estate, the right to sue the employer if the injury or death resulted from the employer's negligence.
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The formal citation for what has become known as the Jones Act is §33 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, now §30104, Title 46 of the United States Code:

"A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer. Laws of the United States regulating recovery for personal injury to, or death of, a railway employee apply to an action under this section."

The law was named after the sponsor of the 1920 statute, Washington State Republican senator Wesley L. Jones.

In Braen, the United States Supreme Court held that in some instance, a Jones Act claim could be made even if the injury occurred while the seaman was off the ship.

In a 1995 case, the same court offered an:

"... appropriate rule of thumb for the ordinary case: a worker who spends less than about 30 percent of his time in the service of a vessel in navigation should not qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act."


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