Cruise lines have an obligation to provide a safe environment for passengers. When you board a cruise ship, you assume that the ship's security guards and officers will provide you with the protection you need to have peace of mind on your vacation. Unfortunately, many ships lack proper security, or the existing security personnel are negligent, leaving passengers vulnerable to injury from an accident or assault.
If you have been a victim of assault of any kind on a cruise ship, our experienced Miami cruise ship attorneys at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. can help you stand up for your rights. We understand that there is no way to turn back the clock on what happened, but reducing your financial burden and demanding accountability from those who failed to protect you can help you find a sense of closure after such a traumatic event.
Call us today at 305-371-8000 for a free case evaluation. We proudly serve the area of Miami, Florida, as well as nationwide.
Cruise Ship Assault
Cruises are marketed as an experience within a closed, insulated environment. But very little of the money you pay for this experience comes back to you in the form of security for your protection. The cruise lines also pay the crewmembers below what the U.S. considers minimum wage. The cruise lines know that our Federal law does not apply onboard the ships. This accounts for the fact that the cruise lines almost never hire U.S. citizens.
Crewmembers are encouraged to socialize and engage the passengers and to form a trusting bond with them. The trusting relationship that forms between passengers and crewmembers, the isolation at sea, and the lack of police presence onboard cruise ships combine to create a dangerous environment.
The consequences of inadequate security on a cruise ship can lead to dangerous situations, including:
- Cruise ship assault by another passenger or by a crewmember
- Cruise ship sexual assault by another passenger or by a crewmember
- Rape by another passenger or by a crewmember
Sexual assault and rape do happen on cruise ships. The cruise lines are required to report crimes onboard cruise ships to the FBI. What is defined as a “crime” and when the reporting takes place is subject to interpretation. We and others have found that the cruise lines grossly underreport these crimes and incidents.
Your Rights on a Cruise Ship
Seven years ago in 2010, congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). This legislation was enacted as a way to address safety concerns on cruise ships, including sexual assault prevention and the appropriate response to help the victims. In this Act, cruise lines are to make sure that passengers have access to the necessary resources to receive medical attention, forensic exams in cases of sexual assaults, and the ability to file reports in the event that a sexual assault does occur.
In the CVSSA, these passenger rights were created to provide you with the means to increase your safety through awareness on what to do in situations of assault.
According to the CVSSA, as a passenger on a cruise ship, your rights include:
- A copy of the security guide: This is a written summary describing where and who to talk to in the event of crime. This guide should also include criminal law procedures for crimes that are committed on any waters the ship may travel through, as well as a list of U.S. embassy locations in foreign countries.
- Sexual assault forensic exam: All cruise ships must be equipped with the proper equipment and materials for performing this exam should a sexual assault occur.
- Right to confidentiality: If you need to request and receive support services aboard a ship, you have the right to confidentiality. Any information given to the ship's medical staff, counselors, and support staff must be confidential.
Security on Cruise Ships
When potential harm is foreseeable on a cruise ship, the cruise line must take reasonable steps to limit the passengers' risk level. The cruise lines should provide sufficiently trained security onboard the ships. These security personnel and security devices (like monitored security cameras) should provide the capabilities to detect problems onboard the ships.
Passengers sometimes report criminal activity or suspicious behavior to security personnel. However, if the security team does not have enough patrols available to respond to all demands, the report may never be addressed in time. If a serious injury occurs because of this lack of security, the cruise line can and should be held responsible for negligence.
The cruise lines should properly screen and investigate its crewmembers before they are hired. After the crewmembers are hired, the cruise line should train them and monitor their activities.
What to Do After an Assault
The General Maritime Law applies to any personal injuries and to sexual assaults and rapes onboard cruise ships. John H. (Jack) Hickey is double board certified by the Florida Bar as both an admiralty and maritime lawyer and a civil trial lawyer. If you have been a victim of cruise ship sexual assault or rape anywhere in the world, it is important to remember that what happened to you was not your fault. It was the fault of two parties only: the person who committed the crime and the cruise line whose negligence allowed that crime to happen.
Below are important steps you should take if you have been sexually assaulted or raped on a cruise ship:
- Report the crime immediately to the security officer onboard the ship.
- Go to the ship’s infirmary to report the incident and to obtain treatment for any physical injuries. Although it may seem against your natural instincts, it is best to NOT shower or wash your clothes/bedding until you have had a forensic examination by qualified medical personnel. Doing so could destroy valuable evidence.
- Collect the names of the crewmembers who were involved (that is, the perpetrators).
- Gather names and contact information from passengers with any information. This would include anyone who heard or saw any of the events leading up to, during, or after the incident.
- Call the FBI to report the crime. Demand that the cruise line allow you to call the FBI and speak to an agent. The cruise lines are obligated to allow you to speak to the FBI and you have the right to speak to them.
- Upon arriving at your port in the U.S., go immediately to the nearest rape treatment center. Every hospital in the U.S. has one. The ERs of U.S. hospitals have rules and protocols for treating and testing for rape.
- Get proper medical care as soon as possible for your physical injuries. This may include a gynecologist, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon, and internist, or family doctor.
- Take photos of any physical injuries or bruises. These can be incredibly powerful evidence in your case.
- Seek psychological counseling.
- Call the Hickey Law Firm, P.A. We can help. We have experience in representing victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery on cruise ships.
Read More About Litigation for Assault and Rape on a Cruise Ship in Our Blog
Contact an Experienced Cruise Ship Assault Attorney Today
Please contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. at 305-371-8000 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced cruise ship sexual assault attorneys. We provide the advice you need, the representation you want, and the compensation you deserve. Our firm represents the victims of cruise ship crimes and negligence in Miami, Florida, and worldwide.