A Guide To Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships & Florida Law

A Guide To Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships & Florida Law

Some Pertinent Facts About Sexual Assault on a Cruise Ship.

Due to many factors, sexual assault on cruise ships is on the rise. These crimes are always traumatic and devastating events for you as the victim. Additionally, the fact that the assault occurred on a cruise ship further complicates the matter under maritime laws.

If the crime occurs in a U.S. port when the ship is docked, the laws of the U.S. would clearly hold, and the local police could prosecute the perpetrator.

However, if the ship is in international waters, the case becomes much more legally complex due to maritime laws.

Some current key points about sexual assault on a cruise ship are:

  • Currently, there is a rise in the “prevalence” of sexual assault allegations on cruise ships.
  • In last year’s data, there were more than 101 allegations on ships embarking and disembarking in the U.S.
  • In many cases, the FBI has jurisdiction over the crime if you, as the victim, are a U.S. citizen.
  • If you are at sea when the crime occurs, you can seek care from the ship’s medical personnel or go to the nearest hospital if the vessel is docked.

Although the FBI may become involved, no specific federal government agency regulates cruise ships’ customer service complaints or these types of issues. However, the Federal Maritime Commission provides some assistance to passengers of cruise ships and also may refer you to other appropriate governmental agencies.

Commonly, the most important source of information is provided by the Department of Transportation, and they are the cruise line incident reports. These reports became mandatory, so they must be reported if any crimes are committed aboard the ship.

The most unnerving fact is that if any criminal activity, such as rape or sexual assault, occurs on a cruise ship, it can potentially be a highly complex legal matter. This is because the crime involves jurisdiction, choices of laws, strict liability, and possibly statutory rape.

This is the main reason: if you are a victim of sexual assault at sea, you must consult with an experienced, knowledgeable Miami maritime personal injury lawyer who has tried and successfully defended clients who have been violated on a cruise ship.

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How Does Jurisdiction Work If My Sexual Assault Occurred At Sea?

Cruise ship at Florida portSuppose the cruise ship resides and leaves from Miami, Cape Canaveral, or any Florida port. In that case, the alleged perpetrator of the assault will commonly be prosecuted in a Florida State Court. Additionally, depending on the specific details of the crime, they may bring them before the Federal Court.

Some federal laws do provide provisions for particular specific types of maritime jurisdiction. This usually occurs when a criminal act is committed in international waters that are not under any nation’s jurisdiction. Some federal laws will also apply if the victim is a U.S. citizen. and even sailing on a foreign cruise ship with a US departure or arrival port.

Let’s say the sexual assault or rape happens on a Miami-based cruise ship, and you, the victim, want to pursue civil damages. The primary issue is who to sue and what court I sue them in.

Pursuing justice in a sexual assault case is always legally complex, even if it happens in your own home. Therefore, when it occurs in international waters, the legal difficulty increases significantly.

It’s comforting to know that your Miami personal injury lawyer, versed in these sea-going crimes, will ensure you have the correct advice and guidance you need to obtain the justice and compensation you fully deserve.

What Happens If the “Alleged Perpetrator” Is A Crew Member?

The standing and the criminal’s identity may also impact your case and who the victim can sue or charge. If the assailant committing the sexual assault is a crew member, then “strict liability” may apply. So, you, as the victim, may not be required to prove intent or negligence, only that the sexual assault took place.

This may give your competent, experienced Miami maritime lawyer another way to get you the justice you demand and deserve.  This is because a crew member committed the assault, and the cruise ship company is strictly liable for their actions.

So, you may prosecute the assailant but also possibly sue the cruise line as they could be held accountable for negligence and be held responsible for not providing the security you required and more.

Can I Sue The Cruise Line For Negligent Security?

Cruise ship security guardYou’re booking your cruise, so you can relax and be treated like royalty, and expect that you will be safe and secure on the ship. You certainly don’t expect to be the victim of a crime.

Unfortunately, though, that is only sometimes the case. Criminal acts occur all the time on board cruise ships, and as a passenger, you can become prey to people with malicious intent.

If the cruise line doesn’t provide you with reasonable, adequate, and consistent security, they can be held liable for crimes or injuries you suffered under Florida’s negligent security laws.

Your assailant may use these lapses” in security to commit their crimes, and the cruise line’s failure to provide a secure and safe environment helped to cause it to happen.

Negligent security might be things such as:

  • Broken locks on doors or cabins.
  • Poor lighting in areas of the ship or on deck.
  • Inadequate security forces and poorly trained security personnel.
  • Security cameras that do not work or need to be clarified.
  • Improper or poor background checks on their employees.

After your Miami maritime lawyer analyzes the specifics of your case, they will professionally determine if the cruise line was negligent in any way. If so, your lawyer will ensure they are forced to pay the compensation you deserve.

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I Was Sexually Assaulted On a Cruise; How Should I Proceed?

A sexual assault or rape is one of the worst crimes you, or a loved one, can experience. Additionally, these cases are challenging to prosecute, and the legal challenges are enhanced when the crime occurs on the high seas.

However, the worst thing you can do; is do nothing. You have rights and deserve justice and compensation no matter where the crime occurred.

First, get the medical help you need, but then, as soon as possible, consult with an experienced, empathetic, and aggressive Miami cruise ship and maritime law team.

Your lawyer will work tirelessly and aggressively to obtain the justice you rightfully deserve and the compensation needed for you to recover and move forward successfully with your life.

Last updated Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

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