F.E.L.A. Claims –
Federal Employees Liability Act
The Federal Employees’ Liabilities Act was passed when the U.S. Congress passed the Jones Act; they extended statutory protection to seamen who were protected under common law only. The Jones Act allows qualifying seamen the same protections afforded to U.S. railroad employees under the F.E.L.A. (Federal Employees’ Liabilities Act). The Jones Act canonized many common law maritime principles, such as maintenance and cure.
The following excerpt from the Jones Act illustrates the connection between injured seamen and FELA law.
46 USCS Appx § 688 Title 46. Appendix. Shipping Chapter 18.
§ 688. Recovery for injury to or death of seaman
(a) Application of railway employee statutes; jurisdiction. 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.
Federal Employees Liability Act (F.E.L.A.)
45 USCS § 51 (2002)
§ 51. Liability of common carriers by railroad, in interstate or foreign commerce, for injuries to employees from negligence; definition of employees
Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories, or between any of the States and Territories, or between the District of Columbia and any of the States or Territories, or between the District of Columbia or any of the States or Territories and any foreign nation or nations, shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce, or, in case of the death of such employee, to his or her personal representative, for the benefit of the surviving widow or husband and children of such employee; and, if none, then of such employee’s parents; and, if none, then of the next of kin dependent upon such employee, for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment.
Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be the furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this Act be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this Act and of an Act entitled “An Act relating to the liability of common carriers by railroad to their employees in certain cases” (approved April 22, 1908) [45 USCS § 51 et seq.] as the same has been or may hereafter be amended.
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