Articles Posted in Crime Victims

Teenagers are victims in shipboard assaults

Our Miami cruise ship injury attorneys see the peril of shipboard crimes such as sexual assault and the law’s inability to address these tragedies. These consequences are alarming for victims under 18 as these media reports show.

Cruise line offers apology and trip to assault victim

Crime on cruise ships is not a new phenomenon, regrettably. Many voyages were ruined by unexplained deaths, overboard passengers, sexual assault, battery, and theft suffered by passengers on the world’s most popular cruise lines. Committing a crime while on vacation seems utterly irrational, but it happens. Cruise lines owe passengers a duty of care to protect their passengers from harm. Therefore, cruise lines may be held accountable to you if you are the victim of a crime while onboard. Florida cruise ship attorneys will provide you with zealous representation if you are the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship.

Until very recently, crime statistics for crimes that occur on a cruise ship were inconsistently reported.  While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains crime statistics, cruise lines compiled their own statistics. These compilations rarely, if ever, agreed with one another. Often, the FBI would report individual numbers while the cruise lines would report something wildly different. The public did not have access to the crime statistics, which compounded matters. Obviously, cruise lines have a vested interest in under reporting the numbers of crimes allegedly happening during their voyages.

Now, with the assistance from the United States Department of Transportation, the public has ready access to crime statistics for a crime allegedly committed on board a cruising vessel.  Critically, recently enacted legislation not only compels cruise line to cooperate with reporting of offenses, but FBI agents are also assigned to investigate crimes the reportedly happen during a voyage. The FBI will establish a communication system that enables victims to contact the FBI for assistance while onboard the vessel.

Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships Increase from Last Year

For a number of years, many have argued that cruise lines should be subjected to more stringent requirements for reporting crimes that happen both on board and in the numerous destinations these ships visit. Cruise ship injury attorneys have argued that cruise lines should make passenger safety a top priority and that they should thoroughly explain the measures they are taking to maintain and improve passenger welfare. Unfortunately, a number of cruise passengers are raped, or sexually assaulted every year. In the past, many of these incidents may not have been reported or are under reported by the cruise lines.  A major factor that plays in to the prevalence of these terrible crimes is because cruise ships provide inadequate safety and security measures on their ships. Some cruise ships do not even have security cameras in common areas making a cruise ship an easy target for predators.

Without a clear understanding of the incidents that occur on board, cruise lines often  attempt to dodge legal liability for failing to remedy unsafe conditions. For example, a crew member commits a rape or sexual assault, the cruise line is strictly liable under federal maritime law. In order to avoid legal liability cruise line operators often send the employee back to their place of origin. If a rape or sexual assault is committed by a passenger, then the victim must establish that the cruise line operator failed to act with reasonable care under the circumstances.

police tapePerhaps contrary to popular belief, criminal acts run rampant on cruise ships.  This in large part is due to the extreme lack of security personnel.  For instance, and unfortunately, cruises do not have law enforcement officers on board.  However, cruise lines do employ their own security personnel.  These security personnel are trained to maintain the safety on cruise ships and to protect evidence of a crime.  Even with these special security figures, crime remains commonplace on cruises.

Recently, on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas cruise ship, Jason Lawson, 32 years of age, was charged for an attack on a 13-year-old boy.  Lawson’s 13-year-old daughter also attended the cruise ship and was offered a keychain for her virginity by said 13-year-old boy.  Lawson is accused of assisting Arturno Martinez Jr., 30, assault the young boy.  In short, Lawson now faces battery, false imprisonment and additional charges from this incident.  The other attacker, Martinez, was charged with child abuse, assault, battery and false imprisonment of a child.  At the time of this incident, Lawson forced the 13-year-old boy to apologize to his daughter.  Minutes later, the 13-year-old girl’s uncle, Martinez, cornered the young boy in the cruise ship’s library and began to beat him.  At the same time, Lawson watched and blocked the boy’s escape.      

If you or a loved one are a victim of a crime, it is imperative you hire an experienced attorney.  The Miami crime victim lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA provide high quality legal representation.  For more information call us toll free at 1-877-475-2905 or contact us online to set up a FREE initial consultation.

100_0677While a cruise ship voyage can be a dream vacation, accidents and crime may occur. Just recently, Gary Stevenson, 27 years of age, admitted he stabbed a cruise ship worker, Katy Bourke, three times because she refused to have sex with him. Mr. Stevenson, a hard drinker, essentially snapped and fatally attacked her. Before the stabbings, Stevenson punched her repeatedly in the face and put his hands around her throat. After killing her, Stevenson then cut his wrists in a fake suicide attempt. Officers discovered Bourke’s naked body next to her bed near a large kitchen-knife. The officers were notified by Katy’s friends when she failed to show up for work.  

If you or a loved one is a victim of a crime at sea, it is important that an experienced maritime lawyer is retained for your case. Cruise ship companies have their own lawyers who work for them following an incident and so should you. The Miami cruise ship lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA provide high quality legal representation. For more information call us toll free at 1-877-475-2905 or contact us online.

The Basics of Murder

DSCF0068Are you contemplating a cruise ship vacation? If so, please be wise and keep your valuables at home (if possible). Theft crimes on cruise ships are not uncommon. Not only do these theft crimes take place at United States ports and at sea, theft crimes also take place while ported on foreign lands. For instance, just last month, in March 2016, while making a stop in Belize, six cruise ship passengers and one tour guide were robbed at gunpoint. The robbery occurred while the passengers enjoyed an excursion at the Altun Ha Maya ruins site. Local police detained a few people in the area as suspects.

If you were a victim of a theft crime while abroad, it is imperative that you retain an experienced attorney for your case. Contact the Miami maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA. At Gerson & Schwartz, PA we provide high quality legal representation. For more information call us toll free at 1-877-475-2905 or contact us online.

The Basics of Robbery

Shower headSexual assaults on cruises are, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. The facts are quite scary. One major cruise line recently indicated that there were 173 sexual assaults or rapes reported on their ships during a five-year period. To make matters worse, none of these 173 reports were ever prosecuted. A different major cruise line reported that there are two rapes or sexual assaults per month on each of its cruise ships. Just recently, off the coast of Florida, a cruise line’s steward was charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a cruise ship shower. The steward was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery of a person less than 16 years of age. Investigators maintain that the steward saw the young boy in a ship sauna. The two started talking as they used the facility. To get away from the steward, the boy left the sauna and went to the showers; yet, the steward followed and engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct. 

The Lawsuit

If you wish to file a lawsuit against a cruise line, there are some important rules that you must be aware of. For one, cruise ship tickets that you initially purchase normally have a “forum selection clause” and a “choice of law clause.” These clauses are often printed on the back of the ticket in small font. These clauses specifically indicate in which state the passenger may sue the cruise line, as well as the law that will apply in his or her case. You should strictly adhere to the rules listed on your ticket. Failure to do so may ultimately have your case dismissed. If the cruise ticket has you filing the case in Florida, with Florida law applying, the following rules of law may apply to your situation.       

police tapeRecently, a Carnival Liberty cruise ship returned to a port in South Florida following a tragedy at sea. The unconscious body of a passenger, 36 years of age, was found aboard the cruise ship. The passenger, once found, received immediate medical treatment but was pronounced dead two hours after her discovery. Currently, the FBI is investigating the passenger’s death and is awaiting the autopsy report. The FBI has stated that the accident could possibly be a homicide.  Per the FBI, this case is largely still under investigation.

As it turns out, murders on the high seas are not uncommon. Just on Carnival cruise ships, for example, there have been a number of passenger deaths last year alone. Last year, a Carnival cruise passenger was brutally murdered by her husband. He was later charged and convicted of first degree murder.     

If someone you love was murdered at sea, it is critical to retain an experienced maritime lawyer. The relevant laws are highly complex. The Miami cruise ship attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here for you. Our attorneys have plenty of experience filing claims against all major cruise lines. We can provide you an ease of mind, as we know what do and know how to deal with the numerous complexities. We will fight hard to enforce your legal rights.     

OCEAN BUOY 2The cruise industry has significantly grown in popularity over the years. With this, however, comes an increase in crime on cruise ships. Crime at sea is now a serious problem. Just recently, near the Bahamas, an 11-year-old female was molested on a Disney Cruise Line (“DCL”) cruise ship when one of DCL’s chefs touched her breast. Stunningly, this crime was not reported until 16 hours after it occurred. This non-reporting occurred despite the requirement for cruise lines to make such reporting. What is more surprising is that, for one, the victim’s grandmother decided that she did not want to press charges on the suspect, and, two, Bahamian authorities did nothing more than fly, free of cost, the suspect back to his home! Justice was certainly not served in this case. Not only was the incident not reported until 16 hours after it took place, but an overlapping of jurisdictions (Bahamas instead of Florida) prevented this suspect from being fully investigated and prosecuted.

It is becoming commonplace that crime victims on cruise are not provided the help they need by the judicial system. With the blatant lack of reporting, despite a high occurrence of crime at sea, the cruise line business appears to be misleading the public. Perhaps this is to keep sales high. If you, or your loved one, are a cruise ship crime victim, it is critical that you hire an attorney. The Miami maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here for you. Our attorneys have plenty of experience filing claims against all major cruise lines. We can provide you an ease of mind, as we know what do and know how to deal with the numerous complexities. We will fight hard to enforce your legal rights.  

Serious Problem with Cruise Lines

file7241281863954Instances of rape, sexual assault, and other sex crimes occur frequently on cruise ships. Just last year a cruise ship employee used a master key to enter the room of a female passenger. He hid on the room’s balcony until she returned. On her return to the room, she went to bed and was awakened by the intruder. The crewmember began choking her. The passenger fought for her life in every way she could by biting him and stabbing him with a corkscrew. The passenger was sexually assaulted, punched, and beaten with a laptop and a curling iron. She incurred brain injuries, fractures to her skull, spine, and face, and numerous bite marks. The crewmember even tried to snap the passenger’s neck. The crewmember tried to kill her. He became nervous when other passengers began knocking on the door and jumped off the balcony to the lower level in hopes of getting away. He was eventually caught.

Maritime law holds cruise lines strictly liable for the intentional, wrongful, and criminal acts of their employees. This includes rape and sexual assault. Rules of law governing conduct on cruise ships can be complex. To add to the complexities, cruise ships are governed by federal law, not state law, when the cruise ship is more than three nautical miles out at sea. If you or a loved one is a victim of a crime on a cruise ship, it is important that you seek the representation of an experienced maritime law attorney. The Miami, Florida maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA have experience filing claims against all the major cruise lines.

The Cruise Ship Vessel Security Act of 2010

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