Jones Act (FELA) Lawsuits


The Jones Act is a Federal statute (46 U.S.C. 688) that extends FELA (the Federal Employers Liability Act) to seamen.  The Act enables seamen who have been injured at sea during the course of their employment to bring personal injury action against their employers.

Even though maritime law usually does not afford a plaintiff the right to a jury trial, the Jones Act grants the plaintiff that right in personal injury cases.  Under the Jones Act, the plaintiff may bring action in federal district court or in state court. The defendant cannot remove the case from state court to federal court.

46 U.S.C. 688a reads:  “Any sailor who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment, at his election, maintain in action for damages at law, with the right to trial by jury, and in such an action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common-law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply….”

The Jones Act and Maritime Law

The biggest question in any maritime injury case is whether the injured party is a seaman, since only seamen can be covered under the Jones Act.  A seaman under the Jones Act must be a member of the crew of a vessel.  A seaman can also be someone who is assigned to a fleet of vessels for his employer.  For instance, those who work on tankers, freighters, semi-submersibles, towboats, tugs, supply boats, crew boats, barges, and fishing vessels are members of a crew that are considered seamen.

Maritime and offshore accidents fall under a different set of laws than other personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.  To benefit from the full protection of these laws, it is imperative to have an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of these laws.

What is Negligence Under The Jones Act?

The Jones Act requires the seaman’s employer to provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work and to use ordinary care under the circumstances to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition.

A maritime employer is liable to the seaman under the Jones Act for the negligence of any of its employees, including the seaman’s captain and co-workers.  An employer can be held liable for any of the following conditions that might cause harm to a seaman, including:

  •  Grease or oil on the deck
  •  Breakage of equipment
  •  Improperly maintained equipment
  •  Failure to provide proper equipment to crew members
  •  Improper training of the seaman and other crew members
  •  Unsafe work methods
  •  Negligence of the seaman’s co-workers
  •  Assault by a co-worker

What Are Damages Under The Jones Act?

An injured seaman is entitled to damages as in any type of personal injury case, such as lost wages, medical expenses, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.  Under Federal law, a Jones Act lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of injury.

Your St. Louis Jones Act (FELA) Personal Injury Attorney

The Lieser Law Firm is experienced in dealing with Jones Act cases.  If you have any questions regarding a personal injury that happened as a result of a maritime or offshore accident, please CONTACT US TODAY for a FREE case evaluation.

If you have been injured or are suffering because of the carelessness of someone else, let us offer you a free case evaluation. Send us an email about your accident & we will contact you today.

Free Case Evaluation

Send us an email about your accident & we will contact you today.

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