Though often a fun, relaxing, and stimulating experience for passengers and their families, going on a cruise has always come with certain risks. In the past, due to loopholes in maritime law, cruise lines have been allowed to keep crime reports private from the public. For passengers, that meant placing their lives in the hands of companies who weren’t being upfront with them about all of the dangers of taking a cruise for the duration of their vacation.
But thanks to a recent ruling, this is about to change. On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed a law that includes a provision requiring cruise lines to disclose all allegations of crimes at sea to the public. Under this law, cruises must publicly report closed FBI cases, open FBI investigations, and alleged crimes. The US Coast Guard keeps a tally here.
Before this legislation was passed, only a small portion of crimes were revealed by cruise lines to the public, allowing them to present a rosier picture of cruise travel and basically sweep things under the proverbial rug. The new law not only allows passengers to access information about crimes, but also accidents and overboard incidents that were previously undisclosed. This can improve safety in several ways:
Empowering prospective passengers. With information about past incidents of crime and accidents, prospective travelers will be able to make a more informed decision when choosing their cruise line. Instead of having to rely on biased cruise websites and rumors, passengers can take a close, hard look at the facts and history of the cruise line they are considering for their next vacation.
Increased security. In response to greater public scrutiny, cruise lines are more likely to heighten security and make a greater effort to prevent crimes and injuries on their ships.
Accountability for injuries. When ships were allowed to conceal information about crimes and other incidents, it was difficult for passengers to hold them accountable for injuries. As the new legislation puts this valuable information under public eye, passengers may be better able to demand accountability from cruise lines.
Common Cruise Ship Crimes
Even before the new legislation was passed, incidents of crime and negligence were reported with frequency by cruise ship passengers. Common crimes included:
Crimes of medical negligence. Common examples of medical negligence reported on cruise ships include failure to diagnose or treat illnesses, improperly diagnosing an illness, and carrying out incorrect medical procedures.
Onshore crimes. Many cruise ships travel to high-risk ports, and onshore crimes such as theft and assault are not uncommon.
Sexual assault. Since many cruise lines do not conduct thorough background checks of their employees, cruise companies may unknowingly invite a dangerous or unstable worker onto their staff. In the past, there have been reports of attacks and sexual assaults from unbalanced crew members.
Negligence. When negligent crew members allow unsafe conditions to prevail, this can result in serious cruise ship accidents and injuries for passengers.
If you have been injured due to a crime or unsafe conditions on a cruise ship, you may be able to hold the cruise line accountable and help to change things so that no one else has to undergo an ordeal like yours. Contact an experienced attorney with experience in cruise ship injuries, who can help defend your rights and secure compensation for medical bills and overall pain and suffering.
Keep reading this blog for the latest in personal injury news and what you can do to protect your rights and make sure you’re not paying for someone else’s mistake.