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What is the 'Jones Act' in Illinois maritime injury cases?

The history of the United States is inextricably intertwined with the sea. From the earliest days, the country depended on ships and those who operate them, both for security and the economic advantage that comes from the ability to ship goods over large bodies of water. While many people may not think of Illinois as a maritime state, it is important to remember that the great lakes are, in fact, inland seas, and have been the center of waterborne commerce for two centuries.

The sailors who ply the open waters of the great lakes do so at great risk, as the location of these bodies of water mean they are susceptible to frequent and violent storms. Working on a ship is dangerous enough, but poor weather can make the situation worse. Laboring on a large hunk of steel surrounded by miles of water while attempting to perform one's duties on a pitching, wet deck is often perilous to the health and safety of workers.

While there were some common law remedies for sailors who suffered injury, such as the doctrine of 'maintenance and cure', the federal Jones Act, passed in the 1920s, extended the ability to sue employers for personal injury. This means that those who work on ships and are hurt in the course of their labors due to some negligence on the part of their employers or coworkers may be able to receive compensation in the same way those hurt on land can.

While working at sea is a difficult and demanding job, requiring those who engage in it to be tough and resilient, they still deserve to have their legal right to compensation protected. The somewhat complicated procedures when dealing with maritime injuries may mean that those Illinois residents in such situations may wish to consider an attorney experienced in handling such cases.

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