It seems each month there is a news report about a crewmember assaulting a passenger while on a cruise. Vacationers take cruises to relax and have fun. Cruise lines spend millions of dollars portraying their ships as the model of safety and security. This combination causes people to let their guard down and makes them a target for predators. Recently cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival and NCL started releasing better statistics of crime committed on their ships. Statics coming from these cruise lines are quite disturbing and showcases the fact cruise ships are not safe places they appear.
The best advice is to not let your guard down and position yourself to not become the target. This is accomplished by traveling in groups, not over indulging in alcohol, staying away from unlit secluded sections of the ship and not flashing money and expensive jewelry.
If the unthinkable happens, the law does protect the passenger. Our lawyers are regularly contacted by assault victims wanting to know how the law protects them. First and foremost, the law overwhelming favors the passenger who was assaulted by a crewmember. United States law holds the cruise line strictly liable for the deliberate actions of their crewmembers. This is a powerful arrow in the passenger’s quiver. Since cruise lines are strictly liable they cannot argue traditional defenses such as the crewmember was not acting in the course or scope of his employment at the time of the attack or the cruise line did not know the crewmember has a violent streak. In short, the cruise line’s only defense is the assault never occurred.
Since the cruise line’s defense is the assault never occurred, it is imperative that evidence is gathered. To do this, you should immediately report the attack to the ship and seek out medical attention. It is also very important to obtain the crewmember’s name. If you cannot find out his name, try to find out his position aboard the ship. Obtaining contact information of any witnesses to the assault will also help prove your case. Take pictures of your injuries and the scene of the attack. Finally, you are well served to contact an attorney who is very familiar with cruise law and has handled assaulted cases.
Hiring an attorney to represent you in an assault claim against a cruise line is an important decision and should not be based upon advertisement alone. The attorneys at BB&R are Florida Bar Board Certified Maritime Attorneys and have vast knowledge in the area of cruise passenger assault law. If you or a loved one has a claim and would like to know more, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.