Contrary to Critics Jones Act Did Not Interfere with Cleanup Efforts for BP Oil Spill

Sometime shortly after the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, Republican Senator John McCain and others tried to have the U.S. shipping Maritime laws repealed. The Jones Act, a federal statute that was enacted to protect seamen who get injured in the course and scope of their employment, was attacked. They stated that the law should be repealed because it would hinder the relief efforts due to restrictions on the operation of foreign flag ships in the cleanup efforts.

aerials_of_clean_up1.jpg A federal law commission that was investigating the spill said in a report on Tuesday that the Jones Act law did not prevent foreign flag vessels from assisting in the clean up. If the current law was repealed than it would hurt trade lanes for goods being shipped from foreign countries. It would then require that all goods being shipped between the nation’s ports to be transported by U.S. built vessels and sailed by American crews. The prices of course would then rise because we would be excluding foreign competitors. Some supporters for the Jones Act say that the law actually preserves security and the domestic maritime industries.

Shipping rates in other countries like Puerto Rico are already competitive so it would devastate a lot American hometown companies and cities like Jacksonville that would be affected.

The original reports were that the Jones Act actually was preventing foreign skimmers from assisting in the oil spill clean up. However, since it has proved otherwise, the Jones Act remained intact. If the Jones Act had been repealed as argued, reports suggest that at least half a million jobs in the maritime industry, including long shore shipbuilding, and other related industries, would have been threatened.

The lawyers of Rivkind, Pedraza & Margulies, P.A. regularly bring claims on behalf of seamen for personal injuries and wrongful deaths, and the Jones Act is the primary basis of recovery. It was enacted in 1920 as remedial legislation for the protection and welfare of workers. It provides for liberal recovery, relaxing the standard causation requirements typically applicable in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The Jones Act also provides for a claim by a crewmember for failure to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment.