What Is the Jones Act? A Brief Guide

What Is the Jones Act? A Brief Guide

Jun 8, 2023 | Jones Act Lawyer

1920 was a big year in US history. Two amendments were passed in the same year–Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage. The first radio station hit the air, the Ponzi scheme was invented, and F. Scott Fitzgerald published his first novel.

One major event of 1920 that doesn’t get enough attention is the Jones Act. What is the Jones Act? The Jones Act is a trade law that sets up certain trade standards, including which ships can trade in US ports.

Perhaps the most significant piece of the Jones Act was the establishment of the Merchant Marine. It also expanded the Federal Employer’s Liability Act to those working at sea. We’ll go into further detail about the Jones Act in this article.

Background of the Jones Act

A key thing to understand about the Jones Act is that it was passed a year or so after World War I. This is significant because the First World War saw the large-scale use of trade warfare.

The Entente Powers blockaded Germany to lower their morale. The Germans responded by attacking merchant ships from neutral nations that were trading with the Entente. The Americans were a common target.

After the war, the US government wanted to protect its trade interests and ensure maritime safety for its citizens, so it passed the Jones Act.

How the Jones Act Works

The Jones Act protects US trade interests by mandating that only boats made by Americans, and with American owners and pilots can perform domestic shipping in the US.

This law also created the Merchant Marine to help protect American trade interests and provide a pool of volunteer vessels that the government could commandeer if the need arose.

The Jones Act, The DBA, and You

The Jones Act set the stage for the Defense Base Act of 1941, which provided further protections for those working on United States military vessels or bases outside the country.

Much like the Jones Act, the DBA allows you to file a claim against your employer if you were injured while working due to things they did or rules they set.

Keep in mind that filing a claim under the DBA is a bit different than filing a claim against a non-government employer. The government loves its bureaucracy, so you’ll need to consult your superior and report your injuries. This creates evidence that you were injured when you claim you were.

It’s also a very time-consuming process. A DBA case taking over a year before being resolved is not at all uncommon.

What is the Jones Act? A Guide

What is the Jones Act and why is it important? The Jones Act is a maritime trade law that seeks to protect United States trade and citizens from intervention by foreign powers.

We’ve discussed it in some detail here, but there’s always more to learn. You can learn more about the Jones Act, the Defense Base Act, and how to file a claim by looking around our site. If you need a lawyer, we’d be happy to help.