Jones Act: Did you know?

ship.jpgUnder traditional maritime law, a seaman had no cause of action against his employer for injuries caused by the negligence of a fellow seaman. The Osceola, 189 U.W. 158 (1903). This harsh rule changed in 1920, when Congress passed the Jones Act, 46 USC App. Section 688, creating a negligence action for seamen against their employers.

Text of Jones Act on personal injuries and death:

Any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right of trial by jury, and in such 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; and in case of the death of any seaman as a result of any such personal injury the personal representative of such seaman may maintain an action for damages at law with the right of trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States conferring or regulating the right of action for death in the case of railway employees shall be applicable. Jurisdiction in such actions shall be under the court of the district in which the defendant employer resides or in which his principal office is located.


As you can read, the duties and liabilities of the employer under the Jones Act are created, not by explicit language within the Act, but rather by adopting the standards contained in the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), 45 USC Sections 51-60, an earlier Act that created the right of railway workers to sue their employers for personal injuries and death.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

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