The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 provides minimal regulation of certain crimes onboard cruise ships. The regulations are designed to prevent certain crimes and to require some reporting of certain crimes.
To better understand your rights and how this Act relates to your unique case, call us today at 305-371-8000 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Miami cruise ship accident attorneys.
Understanding the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act
It’s important to understand that this Act is a compromise. The cruise lines and their lobbying group, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), were allowed to provide input into the process. These groups have a lot of money to contribute to politicians, and therefore have a lot of power.
Ultimately, the bill was a series of compromises by Congress based on pressure from the cruise lines themselves and CLIA. These compromises resulted in an Act with regulations that, for the most part, were already being implemented. For these reasons, the Act may have little or no effect in the future.
Not the Final Word on Cruise Ship Negligence
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act does not define or even come close to a base line minimum effort with which the cruise lines must comply. In other words, just because a cruise line complies with the Act does not mean or imply that the cruise line has acted safely or reasonably to prevent cruise ship sexual assault or other crimes.
The definition of negligence is acting unreasonably under the circumstances.. A cruise line or ship owner can be negligent by failing to incorporate measures that the Act does not address.
General Cruise Ship Safety Regulations Outlined by the Act
- Rails – The Act has requirements for vessel design, equipment, construction and retrofitting. The Act requires that the rails on the vessel be located not less than 42 inches above the cabin deck. This may or may not prevent someone from falling overboard.
- Cabin doors – The Act requires that stateroom and crew cabins be equipped with entry doors that include peepholes or other means of visual identification. Any vessels that began construction after commencement of the Act are required to have security latches and time sensitive key technology on passenger cabins and crew cabins. The Act also requires that vessels use technology to capture images of passengers who have fallen overboard to the extent that technology is available.
- Passenger guide – The Act requires vessels to have information available for each passenger that describes medical and security personnel designated on board to prevent and respond to criminal and medical situations. The information also should provide contact information for law enforcement.
- Recordkeeping – The Act requires that the vessel owner maintain a logbook for “all complaints of crimes” and “all complaints of other crimes committed on any voyage that embarks or disembarks passengers in the United States.” This logbook has to be made available upon request to any agent of the FBI, any member of the United States Coast Guard, and any law enforcement officer performing official duties in the course and scope of an investigation.
Sexual Assault Readiness and Prevention
In order to deal with rapes and sexual assaults onboard, the Act requires that vessels maintain supplies of anti-retroviral medications designed to prevent STDs and maintain equipment and materials for performing medical examination. It also requires that the ship evaluate the patient for trauma, provide medical care, preserve relevant medical evidence, and make available on the vessel at all times medical staff who have certain credentials.
The cruise line has to verify that the medical personnel possess a current physician’s or registered nurse’s license and have at least three years of post-graduate or post-registration clinical practice in general and emergency medicine or hold board certification in emergency medicine, family practice, or internal medicine. These standards were described years ago by the Cruise Ship Committee of the American College of Emergency Room Physicians.
Under the sexual assault (and rape) provision, the Act also requires that the patient be afforded free and immediate access to contact information for law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Coast Guard and other authorities by private telephone line and internet access through a computer terminal.
In order to prevent sexual assault, the Act requires the owner of a vessel to establish and implement procedures restricting which crewmembers have access to staterooms. It does not specify what those procedures and restrictions should be.
Reporting of Incidents
Finally, the Act requires that the Department of Transportation “maintain a statistical compilation of all incidents described in paragraph (3)(A)(i) on an internet site that provides a numerical accounting of the missing persons and alleged crimes recorded in each report filed under paragraph (3)(A)(i) that are no longer under investigation by the FBI. The data shall be updated no less frequently than quarterly by cruise line. Each cruise line shall be identified by name, and each crime shall be identified as to whether it was committed by a passenger or a crew member.”
This requirement excludes reporting of crimes which are not homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, any offense to which section 2241, 2242, 2243, or 2244(a) or (c) of title 18 applies, firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000. [Paragraph(3)(A)(i)]
Because the cruise lines are required to report these certain crimes — and not all crimes — to the Department of Transportation, which then reports the information on an internet site, the cruise lines have an incentive not to fully report all such crimes.
It is our experience that the cruise lines in personal injury cases choose their own definition of what is similar, and grossly under-report prior similar injuries on any one deck. Statistical analysis also shows that the cruise lines under-report the incidence of crimes by choosing arbitrary, artificial, and manipulating definitions of these crimes. See, e.g., Testimony of Ross Klein, PhD (Paper delivered to the U.S. Senate Transportation Committee, July, 2013).
Get Experienced Legal Assistance for Your Cruise Ship Case
If you have been seriously injured in a cruise ship accident, please contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A., online today or call 305-371-8000 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced cruise ship assault attorneys. We represent injured cruise ship victims in Miami, Florida, nationwide, and even worldwide in select cases.