Cruises are one of the most popular ways for an America to enjoy their vacation time. The companies running these massive ships provide everything that the passengers need – food, drinks, comfortable cabins to sleep in, entertainment, pools, hot tubs, libraries, and so much more. In fact, every year millions of people have a fabulous time while on a cruise. Sadly, hundreds of passengers find their vacation forever marred by a horrific experience, sexual assault.
Cruise Ship Sexual Assault In 2016
According to an investigation performed by NBC Nightly News, in 2016 alone there were 92 crimes that were reported by cruise lines. Of those, 62 were reports of sexual assault. Even more disturbing – a full third of the 62 attacks were on minors.
The enclosed nature of the ship provides sexual predators ample opportunity to plan and execute their attack. It’s not just other passengers who are involved, in many cases the victim is assaulted by an employee of the cruise line. In one case, a victim reported that she had been assaulted by one of the security guards hired to protect those on board and then didn’t know who to go to for help since the person who has attacked her was the one who was supposed to protect her.
Preserving Evidence Is Important
When a sexual assault on a cruise ship is reported the FBI is the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating the manner. But few of the cases ever get prosecuted for one simple reason: lack of evidence. Victims are hesitant to report their attack and frequently don’t report it until after they have driven or flown home.
It can be difficult for a survivor to come forward but keep in mind that help can be provided while the victim’s identity is kept secret. Even small steps can help preserve evidence that can help a victim obtain justice.
Victims Can File A Sexual Assault Lawsuit
While it is common knowledge that the victim of sexual assault can press criminal charges against their attacker, what many people don’t know is that it may also be possible to file a sexual assault lawsuit.
This lawsuit is a civil lawsuit and is completely separate from the criminal charges. If a plaintiff obtains a settlement or is awarded a successful verdict in court, they could recover significant compensation for the losses they have suffered. This may include compensation for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Physical Pain & Suffering
- Emotional Trauma
The amounts obtained in each case vary from plaintiff to plaintiff and depends on the facts of their case.
How Can Compensation Be Given For Emotional Distress?
It is completely normal for the survivors of sexual assault to experience ongoing fear, stress, and anxiety. In fact, many are diagnosed with PTSD which can cause:
- Avoidance Behaviors
- Anxiety Attacks
This can make it incredibly difficult to function from day to day. PTSD can be treated with therapy and medication, neither of which are inexpensive. Victims shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of that burden.
More Than One Defendant Is Possible
It’s easy to assume that the complaint will be filed against the person who sexually assaulted the plaintiff but what many don’t realize is that it may also be possible to file against the cruise line. This is because it is often the negligence of the cruise line which contributed to the conditions which allowed the attack to happen.
In one recent case, the mother of a teenage girl sued Carnival after her daughter was raped. According to their complaint, the girl was attending one of the ship’s alcohol-free clubs for 15-17-year-olds. She noted a group of older men being kicked out and later, when she went to get ice cream from outside the club, they attacked her. The men dragged her to a room where she was violently raped.
She and her mother allege that the ship failed to provide the teen with a safe environment, failed to monitor the men even though they were drunk and causing a disturbance around minors, and failed to provide adequate surveillance through security cameras and guards.
All cruise ships are supposed to provide passengers with a reasonably safe environment and when they fail to do so, they may be held legally liable.