For as long as cruise lines have been in operation, they have been allowed to keep their crime statistics private. This has always been one of the main drawbacks to planning your cruise vacation—the fact that you never quite know the whole story behind the company in which you’re temporarily placing so much trust.
Up until now, cruise lines were required only to reveal information about crimes that the FBI investigated and closed, and they were under no obligation at all to reveal any additional crime information. For vacationers, this meant that no matter how much planning and research they did, they never quite had all the information.
However, with the new law that was signed into effect in December of 2014, the game has changed. As NBC reported, cruise lines are now required to disclose all their crime statistics to the public. Finally, passengers will be able to have all the information about the companies that they’re traveling with.
What Does This Mean for Passenger Safety?
Previously, only a fraction of reported crime aboard cruises was disclosed to the public. As CNN reported in 2013, “of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.” Now, all that is about to change.
The new law requires that cruise lines reveal not only closed FBI cases, but also open cases, alleged crimes, and the numbers of passengers who have gone overboard. This increased transparency has many implications for passengers and their safety, including:
Passenger Empowerment. The ability to make informed decisions about which cruise lines to travel with will put vacationers in a position that they’ve never quite been in before. No longer will passengers have to base their vacation decisions only on clever marketing campaigns and slanted statistics – they will actually be able to get all the information before making their decisions.
Safer cruise lines. If their crime statistics are transparent, it may inspire cruise lines to heighten their security and take greater precautions against crime and injuries. Hopefully, this will mean fewer personal injuries aboard cruise ships.
Increased accountability. Previously, demanding accountability was a little more difficult for cruise passengers, since ships were allowed to keep so much information under wraps. Now that passengers will be able to see all the information about cruise ship crime, they may feel that they’re in a better position to demand that cruise lines are held accountable for any crimes that occurred on board.
What Crimes Can Occur Aboard Cruise Ships?
Sadly, there is almost no limit to the types of crimes that can occur aboard cruise ships. Some of the more common crimes include:
- Medical negligence crimes
- Crimes and injuries that occur during shore excursions
- Slip and fall cases that occur as a result of negligent crew members
But of all the crimes that can occur on board cruise ships, some of the worst and most damaging are undoubtedly those that end in personal injury. Although cruise lines project the image of being completely safe and enjoyable, tragic personal injury and sexual assault crimes occur more often that one might think. These can be traumatizing for passengers and can change their lives forever. Passengers who endure personal injury onboard a cruise ship have the right to have their cases heard and not swept under the rug.
Luckily, there have always been steps that a person can take to hold cruise lines accountable for accidents and crimes, including hiring a knowledgeable attorney to defend you and your rights. But now, thanks to this new law, passengers will hopefully be in a much safer position right from the start.
However, if you or someone you love does suffer accident, injury, or illness while on a cruise and you believe it could have been prevented if it wasn’t for the negligent actions of the cruise line, you still have to act, and you have to do so quickly. Not only are there strict statute of limitations laws on how long you can wait to file a lawsuit for an injury that’s sustained at sea, the faster you have someone building your case, the more likely you are to see a positive result.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”