Ship Owners Have Duty to Prevent Sexual Assaults on the High Seas

According to a recent CNN travel article, the top crimes committed aboard cruise ships are physical and sexual assaults. Sexual assaults should never happen at any time, or in any place, but sexual assault aboard ships is particularly troubling because ship owners and crew leaders have a special duty to prevent assaults against passengers or crewmembers. When they breach this duty and a sexual assault takes place aboard the vessel they are responsible for, the victim may be entitled to monetary compensation.

When ship security fails to prevent sexual assault, a lawsuit may be a possibility

Over a recent five year period, the FBI opened 184 cases concerning alleged crimes that occurred aboard cruise ships. Sexual assault is the number one maritime crime reported to the FBI, comprising 55 percent of all reported high seas crimes.

While cruise ships are a common setting for sexual assaults at sea, these incidents occur on cargo ships and other types of vessels as well. Generally, federal maritime law governs cases that arise out of sexual assaults aboard ships, which is why the criminal law aspects of these cases are most often investigated by the FBI.

There is also a civil aspect to sexual assaults at sea. The ship owner and/or the employer of the crew must protect passengers and crew alike from sexual assault. The duty to protect against sexual assault means ship owners must take precautions, some examples of which may include implementing security protocols, installing working security infrastructure like door locks and proper deck lighting, and conducting background screening on potential crew members before hiring.

When a ship owner or crew leader fails in their duty to prevent a sexual assault, the victim may be able to collect monetary compensation under federal maritime law. It is important, however, to preserve evidence to the extent possible to ensure that a sexual assault cause of action can move forward. This means, when it is possible to due do so, that any sexual assault on the high seas should be reported quickly; that the victim should get prompt medical attention and a forensic examination; and that physical evidence at the scene, such as bed sheets or clothing, should not be discarded or washed.

Get in touch with a maritime lawyer if you were sexually assaulted on a ship

It can be very difficult to report a sexual assault, and long after physical injuries have healed, emotional scars may remain. But, full, fair compensation from those who allowed the assault to occur can help speed the recovery process. If you were sexually assaulted at sea, get in touch with a maritime lawyer today to pursue the compensation you deserve.

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