Maritime Rape and Sexual Assault

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Our Maritime Rape Lawyers Can Help Pursue Cases Against Crew Members, Passengers and Maritime Employees

Working on a ship or vessel can be challenging. Crew members and other maritime workers are not only exposed to hazardous conditions every day, they can also be seriously harmed by dangerous and violent co-workers. When a maritime employee is raped or sexually assaulted by a fellow employee or supervisor, the employer can be held legally liable for the employee’s wrongful actions.

The Jones Act is a federal statute designed to protect seamen. Under the Act, a maritime employer has a duty to ensure that the conditions on a vessel are reasonably safe for crew members. This duty not only involves making sure that the vessel is safe, but also requires the employer to ensure that individuals who are working on the vessel are not violent or dangerous

If a maritime employer does not adequately screen its new hires or fails to institute proper employee supervision and retention practices, the employer can be held legally liable. This means that if you are a crew member who has been raped or assaulted by a supervisor or coworker, you may be able to file a negligence action to recover damages from your employer. Additionally, if you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, you may have an actionable workplace harassment claim against your employer. A skilled maritime rape lawyer can investigate your case and discuss all legal options that may be available to you.

Maritime Sexual Assault Attorneys for Attacks and Rape Onboard Commercial Ships

Statistics show that rapes and sexual assaults onboard commercial ships are far more common than most people realize. This includes rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated both by and against ship workers in all occupations. While employers and vessel owners are supposed to provide safe environments for workers while they are performing their job duties and while they are off the clock, many fall far short of meeting their legal obligations.

Onboard commercial ships at sea, assailants will often take advantage of any opportunity to attack. As a result, rapes and sexual assaults may occur in sleeping quarters, bathrooms, kitchens, cargo holds, engine rooms, secluded areas on deck and other locations. Regardless of where, when and how rapes and sexual assaults occur, victims deserve help, and they deserve help from an experienced maritime rape lawyer to assert their rights under the law.

Onboard Private Yachts Also Fall Under Maritime Laws 

While working on the crew of a private yacht can be a rewarding career, it can also be dangerous. Like crewmembers of other vessels, individuals who work on private yachts face risks for rape and sexual assault on the job. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted while working onboard a private yacht, whether underway or at port, you should speak with a maritime sexual assault lawyer promptly.

Guests onboard private yachts face similar risks as well. In addition to pursuing claims against their attackers, guests who are sexually assaulted on private yachts can pursue claims against the yacht’s owner in many cases. Yacht owners typically have insurance to cover these (and other) types of liability claims.

Rapes & Assault Cases Involving Cruise Ship Passengers

While a cruise vacation is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, passengers can fall victim to serious crimes, including rape and sexual assault by a crew member, contract employee, entertainer or even by another guest. These crimes often take place in the passenger’s cabin with the use of a passkey or in poorly lighted areas and restrooms, and in inner corridors, hallways and storage rooms that can restrict and trap unsuspecting guests and passengers. The absence of video or security cameras can also be a contributing factor as well. In many cases, negligent security procedures and hiring practices, such as failing to conduct criminal background checks, are to blame for these unfortunate events. In such situations, cruise ship operators and owners can be held liable for monetary damages.

If you have been raped or assaulted on a cruise, you are likely to be confronted with a nightmare of legal hurdles which may prevent you from receiving legal relief. Recovery against a cruise line is governed by numerous legal rules and documents, including but not limited to your cruise ticket, the contract of carriage, and the itinerary for travel. The laws and legal procedures in these types of claims are very complex and an experienced maritime lawyer can help you navigate the legal system. Cases involving cruise ship are especially tricky as the contract for voyage has very specific places and filing deadlines that a lawsuit can be filed and deadlines to put the negligent cruise ship owner on notice of the injuries and details.

When a crime occurs, cruise ship operators and their insurance carriers have a strong team of lawyers who will aggressively investigate and defend any legal actions brought against them. You need to have a cruise ship rape attorney on your side who can protect your interests and take all of the steps necessary to properly file and litigate your claim and help educate you on what can be done, if any, to help bring the rapist or attacker to justice before a criminal court for the crimes they committed on the high seas.

What To Do if You Have Been Raped or Sexually Assaulted at Sea

Preserving your legal rights after a rape or sexual assault at sea presents some unique challenges. However, it is extremely important that you do what is necessary to protect yourself. There are some mistakes you will need to try to avoid as well. As the victim of a rape or sexual assault onboard a commercial ship, cruise liner, private yacht or another vessel, you should:

  • Report the rape or sexual assault immediately. You should report the rape to the ship’s head of security or the ship’s captain right away. Explain what happened and where it happened, and provide a description of the assailant (or the assailant’s name if you know it).
  • See the ship’s doctor. You should be able to see the ship’s doctor, and the ship’s doctor should conduct a rape examination. This should happen before you take a shower or use the bathroom. While you will want to see your own doctor as soon as you get home, it is important that you see the ship’s doctor for now so that he or she can preserve key evidence of your attack.
  • Take photos of the location where you were raped or sexually assaulted. If possible, take photos of the location where the attack took place. You should also take pictures of any physical injuries you suffered in the attack. Keep these photos on your phone until you can give copies to your lawyer.
  • Take notes (or record a voice memo). In addition to taking photos, you should also take notes detailing everything you remember. Alternatively, you can record a voice memo on your phone. Take your time, and try to be as detailed as possible. Include the names or descriptions of any people who may have witnessed the assailant approaching you or leaving after the attack.
  • Avoid speaking with anyone else about the attack. Once you report the attack and see the ship’s doctor, you should avoid speaking with anyone else but your maritime rape lawyer. You should also avoid posting anything on social media. You need to keep your ordeal private for the time being, and you need to avoid giving anyone the opportunity to influence your recollection of what happened to you.

If you want help, you can call us to speak with a maritime rape lawyer before taking the steps discussed above.  We can explain everything you need to know, provide step-by-step instructions, and engage the authorities on your behalf. We can also communicate with the ship’s security officer or captain for you until you are safely back on U.S. soil.

Our Maritime Sexual Assault Attorney Explains the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Cases for Rape and Sexual Assault

Even if an individual who perpetrates a rape or sexual assault faces criminal prosecution, the victim must still separately pursue a civil claim to recover just compensation. In the United States, the criminal and civil justice systems are separate and criminal convictions generally do not result in payment of compensation to victims.

The Jones Act and other maritime laws provide grounds for rape and sexual assault victims to pursue civil claims against their assailants, vessel owners and others. Importantly, it is possible to pursue a successful civil claim even if the assailant is not convicted in criminal court. As a result, victims do not have to (and should not) wait for their assailants’ criminal cases to go to verdict, but instead should consult with a maritime sexual assault lawyer right away.

How We Help Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault Onboard Cruise Ships, Yachts and Other Vessels

Many rape and sexual assault victims feel helpless, and they find their circumstances paralyzing. But, you can move forward, and you can get the help you need to seek justice for your attack. When you contact us for help with your maritime rape or sexual assault case, we will:

  • Be available to you by phone 24/7 until you get back to U.S. soil.
  • Contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or other appropriate authorities to secure the scene and investigate the crime.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions for you to follow while you are still at sea and once you return to land.
  • Conduct an independent investigation to determine what civil claim (or claims) we can pursue on your behalf.
  • Pursue all available civil claims to hold the at-fault parties accountable and recover the financial compensation to which you are legally entitled. 

Call a Maritime Rape Lawyer at The Willis Law Firm at 1-800-468-4878

If you are a maritime employee who has been raped or sexually assaulted by a co-worker, or if you are cruise ship passenger who has been the victim of a violent crime, the Willis Law Firm can help. We are a dedicated legal team that knows how to handle difficult and sensitive cases against maritime employers, vessel owners and cruise line operators. Schedule your free confidential consultation with a maritime rape attorney or cruise ship rape lawyer at our firm today.

Willis Law Firm, Offshore & Maritime Lawyer
Nationwide Help - Licensed in Texas and New York
Principal Office
5005 Riverway Drive
Suite #160

Houston, Texas 77056

713-654-4040
1-800-468-4878
By Appointment Only
Willis Law Firm Portway Plaza
1717 Turning Basin Dr.
Suite #232

Houston, Texas 77029

713-930-1717
1-800-447-8400
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