Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



At the present time there are three possible remedies available to seamen who are injured in the course of their employment. In order to maintain any of these actions, the injured party must of course qualify as a seaman. The traditional tests used to determine whether a maritime worker is a seaman are as follows: 1) the vessel must be in navigation, 2) the worker must have a more or less permanent connection with the vessel, and 3) the worker must be aboard the vessel primarily to aid in navigation. These standards have been somewhat modified by Offshore Company v. Robinson. In that case, the court stated that there is an evidentiary basis for holding a person to be a seaman if: 1) there is evidence that the worker was assigned permanently to a vessel, or performed a substantial part of his work aboard a vessel, and 2) his duties contributed to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission. Therefore, it seems that it does not matter whether the vessel is actually in navigation or if the maritime worker is aboard primarily in aid of navigation so long as he performs a substantial part of his work on the vessel. Furthermore, the definition of "vessel" has been extended to cover almost any floating object that is capable of being moved from one place to another.