Cruise ship crime is a serious problem. Without the presence of police, the small security team tasked with keeping order on a large vessel at sea can quickly become overwhelmed due to the disproportionate number of passengers on board. Add alcohol to the mix, and crime can quickly escalate.
Victims of cruise ship crimes have difficult legal hoops to jump through. Unlike on land where identifying a perpetrator, gathering evidence, and talking to witnesses are the keys to seeking justice, cruise ship crime is a bit more difficult to resolve, primarily due to jurisdiction.
Although their parent company may be based in the U.S., cruise lines are often incorporated in foreign countries, meaning they don’t have to necessarily abide by U.S. law. Complicating matters even further is that individual vessels of a cruise line may set sail under the flag of another country, allowing them to avoid certain U.S. regulations, restrictions, and financial charges. This business practice is known as flying a “flag of convenience.”
In order for you to understand your rights under the law, it’s important to first understand the most common types of cruise ship crimes and the role cruise lines play in assuring your safety and security while at sea.
Common Cruise Ship Crimes
Many different types of crimes can occur on a cruise ship, but they primarily they fall into the categories of assault or victimization.
The three most common crimes aboard a cruise ship are:
Theft. This is a lesser crime that falls under victimization. Most victims feel the need to recover their stolen items. If the culprit is discovered, it could lead to a lawsuit if the stolen property was worth market value. A lawyer would be necessary if the matter cannot be resolved.
Intentional injury. Intentional injury is typically the result of a heated argument. Many intentional injuries include someone pushing another down a flight of stairs, pushing them overboard, or injuring them with an instrument of some kind.
Sexual Assault. Fortunately, sexual assault culprits are usually caught because of their proximity to the victim. Security cameras located throughout the ship can also be used to present evidence.
From July 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2018, a total of 32 reported crimes occurred. These crimes are broken down into two missing persons, two assaults with serious bodily injury, seven theft cases that were worth more than $10,000, and 21 sexual assaults.
Even though these are rare occurrences, passengers should be aware that there is still a risk of being injured or being the victim of assault, sexual assault, rape, or any other criminal activity.
Cruise Ship Operators Owe You a Duty of Reasonable Care
In the same way cruise ship operators must provide reasonable care to passengers when it comes to accidents, cruise lines also owe passengers a duty of reasonable care by maintaining a safe and secure environment. As cases are investigated, it’s often discovered that cruise ships:
Lack sufficient security
Serve excessive amounts of alcohol
Have insufficient camera coverage
Have not improved security measures after similar previous crime
By failing to uphold the basic, fundamental requirements of reasonable care, cruise lines can be held liable for criminal acts perpetrated on board their vessels. However, proving they’ve breached this duty can be tough.
Cruise Ship Law is Complicated
Prosecuting a crime at sea can be much more challenging than prosecuting a crime on land. Maritime law governs crimes that occur in open waters and not only is it one of the least updated international laws, it is also one of the most complex. It’s imperative that you find a Fort Lauderdale cruise ship lawyer that has experience with cruise ship criminal law, since it differs significantly from U.S. or Florida criminal law. An attorney that is not familiar with maritime law may not know how to bring a successful case against the cruise ship operator’s legal defense team.
For example, many cruise ships will complete an investigation into the crime before law enforcement even reaches the ship. Law enforcement will then rely on the investigation conducted by the cruise ship, the reports of which are typically skewed to favor the cruise line’s best interests. A qualified cruise ship crime attorney will know how to overcome these obstacles so crime victims can receive the justice they deserve in court.
ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF A CRUISE SHIP CRIME? START HERE
What Should You Do?
If you or a loved one are the victim of a crime aboard a cruise ship, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim.
Alan Sackrin has experience obtaining compensation from cruise lines because of their negligence and he is happy to share some of the issues that typically arise with these claims, including the kind of evidence necessary to prove your case and the type and amount of damages you can recover.
Alan offers a free initial consultation, over the phone or in person, to evaluate your claim and answer your questions. Contact him today to learn more.