When you board one of the enormous cruise ships that sail out of Miami and South Florida ports, you are essentially stepping onto a floating city. Unfortunately, this means the potential for criminal activity exists just as it does on land. The US Department of Transportation maintains a list of cruise line incident reports, and the good news is that most are related to public intoxication and crew swiftly diffuses conflict. However, sexual assault, violent attacks, theft, and related offenses are still a threat.
Cruise vessels have a wide array of amenities for passengers, but they are also equipped with much of the same infrastructure and personnel that you expect in a typical municipality. Despite efforts to establish safety initiatives and maintain skilled security staff, criminal activity is still a problem. You should consult with a Miami cruise ship accident lawyer if you suffered harm, though it is also useful to know how cruise operators handle onboard crime.
Investigations of Criminal Activity
Crew and security personnel are the front line for cruise ship crime, either acting on a victim’s report or observations of witnesses. They are the “authorities” for most practical purposes, though they are not the equivalent of law enforcement officers. Staff respond to allegations of crime in one or more ways:
- Investigating and gathering evidence;
- Detaining a passenger considered a threat to others in the “brig,” which is essentially the ship’s jail;
- Turning a passenger over to local police when the cruise returns to port; and/or,
- Working with local authorities that may have jurisdiction over the vessel while it is docked.
Assistance to Victims
In addition to their efforts to apprehend passengers who commit criminal offenses, cruise personnel are available to help injured victims. These ships offer medical care, though usually not as extensive as what you would expect at a hospital. The crew can assist with basic first aid and most non-emergency injuries.
Note that federal law allows you to access printed materials from cruise officials regarding the process of reporting crime. If there are any tasks that staff did not handle, you may be able to tackle them yourself.
Tips if You Were the Victim of Cruise Ship Crime
Your first priority is getting medical care after being injured, but there are some additional To-Dos for protecting your interests:
- Immediately report a crime to the ship’s security office.
- Take pictures of the scene, your injuries, and related factors.
- Talk to witnesses who observed the criminal activity, if any.
- Contact a lawyer who can help with additional follow-up tasks, such as pursuing a personal injury lawsuit and reporting to the FBI.
Our Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorneys Will Protect Your Rights
These tips should help you get through the overwhelming experience of being victimized while on a cruise vacation, but retaining experienced legal counsel should be a priority. For more information on your options, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. Our team is also available for phone consultations by calling Toll Free at (877) 475-2905.