It’s difficult to imagine yourself doing anything on a cruise other than having fun. Thoughts about reading a book in the sun, napping, playing shuffleboard, and on land excursions are all scenarios that should and will happen for most of the passengers. Unfortunately, there is another situation that happens to a shocking number of cruisers on a regular basis: sexual assault.
You Don’t Know Who You Are In Close Quarters With
The simple fact of the matter is that once the ship sets sail, all passengers are confined to the ship, which has many dark corners and closed door where someone with bad intentions can commit an assault.
It is a cruise company’s responsibility to do everything that is reasonably within their power to protect passengers. Typically this includes:
- hiring security for the ship
- performing background checks on employees during the hiring process
- making sure that all locks on cabin rooms are in working order
- routinely checking for lights that have gone out and replacing bulbs
- having employees walk the corridors frequently to check for issues
Background checks are not, however, performed on passengers and anyone with a valid I.D. is able to purchase a ticket. In addition to this, the steps that should be taken to protect all passengers are often overlooked and as a result, a passenger becomes a victim.
Know Your Rights
Due to the high number of reported sexual assaults on cruise ships, Congress voted to pass the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (CVSSA). The act gave passengers certain rights after an assault and also helped to clear up issues of jurisdiction so that law enforcement is clear in their role.
According to CVSSA, passengers have the right to:
- Obtain a security guide and information on the safety features of the ship. The guide should include information on who a victim can talk to and get additional information from after an attack.
- Obtain clear information on the criminal law procedures that would take place if a crime is committed on any of the waters that the ship might pass through during the trip. Information must also include the location of any U.S. Embassy locations in the countries the ship will be visiting.
- Request a sexual assault exam. Ships medical centers must have the proper kits and equipment required, as well as trained staff to perform the exam.
- Request confidentiality when reporting an attack.
What Happens When A Victim Arrives Home?
When an American is assaulted on a cruise and the ship either sets sail from or arrives at the U.S., the FBI will immediately have jurisdiction over the criminal case. A representative will work the victim and explain the process of pursuing justice. However, this isn’t the only form of justice that a victim is typically eligible for.
Victims also have the right to file a sexual assault lawsuit. This is in addition to any criminal charges filed against their attacker and, while money can’t change what happened, is a way for the victim to obtain compensation for their losses.
Civil lawsuits are filed against the party whose negligence resulted in the harm that the plaintiff sustained. The defendant in these cases isn’t always the person who attacked the plaintiff, it can also be the company that owned the cruise ship.
Compensation that may be available includes coverage of medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, and even the emotional turmoil that the victim has experienced and continues to deal with on a daily basis.
Due to the complicated nature of cruise ship assaults and the fact that victims are already dealing with enough stress, it’s best to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Remember: You Aren’t Alone
At Banville Law, we understand that this is an extremely difficult time and that it might be hard for you to talk about what you’ve been through. Just know that you are not alone and not only are we here to listen but we can also help you find the emotional support you need.