Why the Flag of a Vessel Matters for Workers Injured at Sea
Accidents can happen to fishermen, oil rig workers, cruise ship crewmembers, and all other offshore workers who venture out to sea. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, regulates many topics related to maritime commerce and travel in U.S. waters. This legislation provides specific coverage for those who have been injured at sea to seek out compensation from certain parties. Family members of those killed at sea can also seek out recoveries under this law.
Law Of The Flag
Seamen may not be aware of the impact that a vessel's flag may have on their claim under the Jones Act. The Jones Act only covers domestic vessels, and does not apply to ships that are made in a foreign country or are considered foreign in any way. There are many factors that determine which country's jurisdiction a vessel falls under, but a major one is called the Law of the Flag. This refers to the principle that crewmen and passengers on a vessel are subject to the laws of the country corresponding to the flag flown by the vessel. Flying a flag other than the American flag can easily label a ship as foreign and can thus interfere with the coverage of its crew under the Jones Act. For instance, if a cruise ship is operated out of Panama and sinks at sea due to negligence, American crewmembers on board may not have grounds to seek out compensation under the Jones Act, even if they set sail from a port located in America.
It is not just the flag of a vessel that can affect an injured offshore worker's ability to bring a claim under American maritime law. Even if a person is injured aboard an American flagged vessel in American navigable waters, they can still potentially be denied coverage if they're not legally an American citizen.
In some cases, the Jones Act and other general maritime law may be the only way for an injured seaman or offshore worker to receive compensation for their injuries. Therefore, it is important to know what country's flag is flying over the vessel which you board. The crew of vessels operating under a foreign flag risk losing potential claims if the event of an accident at sea.
Jones Act Lawyer
If you were injured on an offshore vessel, an experienced Jones Act lawyer can review the relevant facts of your injury and the circumstances in which you were injured to help you determine if you are eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. Our law firm specializes in Jones Act cases and has helped our clients recover more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements. Contact us today for a free consultation about your potential Jones Act case.