Maritime Nature of Tort Test

In granting admiralty jurisdiction, the tort in question should have occurred on navigable waters, and the wrong should bear a significant relationship to traditional maritime activity.  The maritime tort jurisdiction of a court has to be determined by the functions and roles of the parties and the types of vehicles and instrumentalities involved.  The causation and the type of injury play an important role in deciding the maritime tort jurisdiction of a court.  The traditional concepts of the role of admiralty law are also to be considered.  Consideration should be given to the effect of the event on maritime commerce and shipping, the necessity of applying uniform national rules to such matters, and the requirement for admiralty expertise in the decision of the case.

Generally, Federal admiralty tort jurisdiction requires a relation of the tort with traditional maritime activity.  However, a maritime activity need not always be a commercial activity.  For the purpose of deciding Federal admiralty jurisdiction, the term “tort” may include torts resulting from malfeasance or negligence, and those committed by direct force.  It is not necessary that a maritime tort be committed on board a vessel for deciding the admiralty jurisdiction.  Apart from navigation, storing and maintaining a vessel at a marina on navigable waters should also be treated as substantially related to traditional maritime activity and therefore comes under admiralty jurisdiction.  In a maritime action fulfilling the prescribed requirements, recovery cannot be delayed just for the reason that the injury occurred on shore.


Inside Maritime Nature of Tort Test