Sexual assault is a serious problem in Miami and throughout the US, but you never expect such a tragic offense to affect your cruise vacation. Unfortunately, statistics from the US Department of Transportation reveal that rape, sexual battery, molestation, and related crimes are not just confined to land. According to a publication on Cruise Line Incident Reports, there are approximately 100 reports of sexual assault every year worldwide on cruises operated by some of the biggest, most reputable operators. Not only is your trip of a lifetime horrifically damaged, but you could experience long-term physical and emotional consequences.
If you or a loved one suffered sexual assault on a cruise vacation, you should make it a priority get in touch with a Miami cruise ship attorney right away to discuss your options. It may also be helpful to review a few facts about the legal process.
Issues with reporting paint a distorted view of sexual assault on cruises. On the one hand, victims are often reluctant to notify crew about these incidents; however, the cruise lines themselves are not always truthful about sexual assault to avoid a PR catastrophe. Because they are “flagged” in countries other than the US, particularly the Bahamas, Jamaica, and other Caribbean nations, they are not subject to our laws that require reporting. Together, these factors make it difficult to assess the risk of sexual assault on cruises.
Sexual assault is the top crime reported to the FBI. Because of victims that do report these offenses to the FBI, it is possible to evaluate the threat. The data indicates that sexual assault tops the list of crimes reported on ships, far exceeding other types of assault and theft offenses. It is also disturbing that cruise operators reported 29 sexual assaults to the FBI, but just 11 were made public.
Criminal and civil sexual assault are separate matters. Though it is a crime, your rights as a victim do not stem from the criminal process. Your legal remedy for recovering compensation for your losses is civil action, which typically starts by filing a claim. You might need to resort to litigation if you cannot resolve your claim through settlement.
You have a shorter time to take legal action. The statute of limitations that applies to most Florida personal injury cases will likely NOT apply; the time restriction that will be important is how long you have to file a claim, and this information is typically included in your passage contract. Many operators allow you just 60 days to provide official notice that you intend to take legal action.
Set up a Consultation with a Miami Cruise Ship Attorney
While reviewing these facts may be helpful, the information barely scratches the surface on the details involved with the legal process. To learn how our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA assists victims of cruise vacation sexual assault, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. We can schedule a free consultation to review your situation and explain your remedies.