Cruise Ship Passenger Sexual Assault (“Rape”)

sexual assault

Claims involving sexual assault and rape of a cruise ship passenger by a crew member, or by a fellow cruise passenger allowed to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, can and do happen with alarming frequency aboard cruise ships. Having previously represented the cruise ship companies for 19 years, the board certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak are in a unique position to protect cruise ship passengers who have been the victim of a sexual assault (“rape”) while on board a cruise ship and, in certain instances, shoreside while visiting a port of call. The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak with offices in Miami, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas are here to help cruise ship passenger injury and accident victims.

A sexual assault and rape aboard a cruise ship, unlike other accidents and injuries, is devastating from an emotional, physiological and physical standpoint. Cruise ship passengers are aboard to have fun, but long work hours, isolation at sea, and the nearly complete lack of “police presence” or threat of prosecution of a foreign crew member committing a crime outside the U.S. combine to create very dangerous circumstances.

The FBI has jurisdiction over sexual assaults at sea in these four circumstances: (1) if the cruise vessel is owned in whole or in part by a United States company, (2) if the victim or the perpetrator is a United States national or if the vessel departs or arrives in a United States port anytime during its voyage, (3) if the offense was committed by or against a United States national outside the jurisdiction of any nation (i.e., in international waters), and (4) if the offense occurred in the United States territorial sea within 12 miles of the United States coast.

There is, however, also the civil court system where an attorney you hire is charged with the responsibility to hold those who failed to prevent the sexual assault and rape from occurring to be held financially accountable. As a victim of sexual assault and rape aboard a cruise ship you are entitled to file suit against the cruise line to obtain compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other expenses.

The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak understand that no amount of money will replace what has been lost, turn back the clock or undo this kind of tragic event. By reducing the financial burden and demanding accountability from those who failed to protect you, however, a cruise ship sexual assault and rape victim may find a sense of closure and justice. These and time may allow a sexual assault victim to regain peace of mind and start the process of moving forward.

While cruise lines ordinarily owe a "duty of reasonable care" to cruise passengers, this is not true in the case of a sexual assault and rape of a cruise ship passenger by a crew member. Cruise lines are obligated to protect their cruise passengers from attack by crew members. As such, cruise ship companies are strictly liable for a crew member assault or sexual assault and rape on a cruise ship passenger. This means that a cruise line is responsible for an assault upon a cruise passenger even though the cruise line did not have notice of a crew member’s propensity for violence or the opportunity to prevent the attack.

What To Do If Sexually Assaulted
  1. While this will certainly be against your natural instincts, it is recommended you NOT shower, and NOT wash your clothes or bedding (as this may damage or destroy valuable evidence) until you have had a forensic examination by qualified medical personnel.
  2. Report it to the ship’s Security Officer immediately. Have a trusted friend accompany you, if possible. Insist that the scene of the crime be secured until law enforcement officials arrive.
  3. Go to the ship’s infirmary for treatment of any physical injuries and to report the incident immediately. The medical personnel are required to alert the ship’s Security Officer, if you’ve not already done so. Insist upon a forensic examination to ensure that all evidence is collected. Retain your clothes in a new paper bag (NEVER in a Ziploc or plastic bag) until FBI or U.S. Coast Guard officials arrive.
  4. If you are onboard the ship when the crime occurs, immediately telephone the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard about the crime, and get advice on how to proceed. You can reach FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. at 202-324-3000, while the emergency numbers for the U.S. Coast Guard are: (1) Atlantic Area Command Center (for Great Lakes, Gulf and East Coasts) - (757) 398-6390; (2) Pacific Area Command center (for the Hawaiian, Alaskan and Pacific Coasts) - (510) 437-3701.
  5. Get the names of all crew involved, i.e., perpetrator(s), and witness(es).
  6. Get the names and contact details of all passengers with ANY information, i.e., anyone who saw, heard, felt, smelt, etc., any of the events. Don’t forget the passengers in neighboring cabins who may have heard something.
  7. Take photos of any physical injuries or bruises and of the scene of the incident.
  8. When first available, whether in the next port of call or upon arrival in your disembarkation port, go the nearest rape treatment center.
  9. Obtain proper medical care for your physical injuries.
  10. Lastly, and as soon as possible, call or have someone on your behalf call a law firm specializing in the field of Admiralty and Maritime law and familiar with cruise ship or mega yacht sexual assault / rape claims.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click email the firm, call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


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