Understanding Maritime Law


Maritime law, or “Admiralty Law”, are terms most often associated with the 1920 Maritime Marine Act. This congressional act is more commonly known as the Jones Act, though it is sometimes also referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The Jones Act is federal legislation that protects American workers injured over or near navigable waters. “Navigable waters” can be interpreted to mean rivers, lakes, or sea. Maritime Law also governs airplane or helicopter crashes over navigable waters.

Who is covered under the Jones Act?

  • Fishermen,
  • Tugboat and barge workers,
  • Ferry boat crew members,
  • Pile drivers,
  • Commercial divers,
  • Deck workers / deck hands,
  • Other commercial work on a vessel while in the water.

What is covered?

  • Work-related injury,
  • Labor disputes,
  • Sexual and racial harassment,
  • Disability discrimination,
  • Toxic exposures,
  • Hearing loss,
  • Compensation recovery related to the above incidents.

Eligible parties who have been victim to any of the above incidents may be entitled to the following:

  • Monetary compensation,
  • Maintenance and cure benefits.

Maintenance and cure pays you a certain portion of your wages while you are unable to work. Those who qualify are entitled to these benefits under the Jones Act or Federal Maritime Law.