Seaman Status Test Law and Legal Definition

Seaman Status Test is a test formulated under the Jones Act for the purpose of eligibility for compensation for maritime injuries. Under the Jones Act, an employer may be made strictly liable and may have to compensate the employee for maintenance, cure and unearned wages.

The United States Supreme Court has established a two-prong test to determine seaman status. According to the Court, first, an employee's duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission. Secondly, a seaman must have a connection to a vessel in navigation or to an identifiable group of such vessels that is substantial in terms of both duration and nature. The seaman status inquiry is a mixed question of law and fact, which is normally reserved for the trier of fact. If a seaman becomes ill or injured while performing work aboard a vessel but cannot satisfy the Supreme Court's two-pronged test, s/he will not be deemed a Jones Act seaman. In such a case, the seaman will only be entitled to general maritime law tort or other remedies. A tort remedy under the general maritime law is not as liberal as seaman's remedies. [Cain v. Transocean Offshore Deep Water Drilling, Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17643 (W.D. La. 2005)]