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Sexual Assaults by Crew Members


Although sexual assaults by crew members on passengers or other crew members are not the norm, they unfortunately do occur both at sea and on land. And as with rapes and sexual assaults occurring on land, the physical and emotional consequences can be devastating to the victims.

Sexual assaults involving crew members and cruise ships normally are governed by maritime law. Under maritime law a shipowner is strictly liable for sexual assaults on passengers or other crew members, which means that it can be held responsible even if it was not negligent or itself at fault. This is an important difference from the law governing land based sexual assaults, which normally does not hold an employer liable for the acts of an employee if they were intentional or outside the scope of the employee’s job duties. Crew members who are found guilty of rape or sexual assault are also subject to the criminal laws of the jurisdiction where the assault occurred.

As in any case involving sexual assault, it is important if you are raped or sexually assaulted for you to report the assault to the cruise line as soon as it occurs so that a thorough investigation can be conducted. It is important that the incident be reported so a record of what occurred can be made, and evidence can be preserved in the event of a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution. By law, cruise lines are required to report all sexual assaults occurring on board the ship to the U.S. Coast Guard, or if the assault occurs outside the United States, to the appropriate criminal authorities. Most importantly, it is critical that if you have been raped or sexually assaulted on a cruise ship or in port that you get proper psychological counseling and support to help you deal with the trauma of what has occurred.

The Pollack Law Firm is committed to providing victims of sexual assault with the best possible representation, and to working to see that justice is done. Our firm, located at the Miami area has nearly 20 years of experience handling maritime cases involving injuries to passengers, including cases involving sexual assault. We fight for our clients and believe in their cause. At the same time, because of the highly personal nature of sexual assault cases, we recognize that not every client will want to approach their case in the same way. Because sexual assault and rape is highly traumatic, some victims of sexual assault prefer to settle their cases in order to avoid having to relive the trauma of the experience in a courtroom. Others will view trying their case as a means of empowering themselves and obtaining justice, and will want the opportunity to confront their assailant. We recognize that the decision of how to respond to a sexual assault legally and emotionally is extremely personal, and one which can ultimately only be made by the client. As a result, we take a client-centered approach to litigating sexual assault and rape cases, and treat each case individually.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault on board a cruise ship and want to find out what your legal rights and options are, contact us today for a free confidential consultation.

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