Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Parker B. Smith

First Page



At the present time no comprehensive workmen's compensation statute exists to provide coverage for seamen injured in the course of their employment. The seaman's only existing remedies consist of an action for maintenance and cure, an action for breach of the shipowner's warranty of seaworthiness, and an action for negligence under the Jones Act. These remedies offer unsatisfactory protection to the seaman for several reasons. Under the existing remedies the seaman may be unable to obtain any recovery because the shipowner has the traditional right to "limit liability" to the seaman at the outset of the seaman's action for recovery. Furthermore, the seaman is under pressure not to file claims; fellow employees are under pressure not to testify; ill will and poor employment relations are thereby encouraged. In addition, the seaman must litigate to recover, and must follow a procedure which is time-consuming, complex, and inefficient. Thus it is apparent that injured seamen will not have effective remedies until either the remedies available to the seaman are improved or new remedies are created.