Liability for Florida Cruise Ship Assaults

Those who board a cruise ship for work or vacation have the right to expect a safe, healthy environment with reasonable accommodations. Cruise ship companies and their crew have a duty to ensure safe transportation, including maintaining safe premises. Further, cruise ships departing from Florida ports are considered common carriers under the Shipping Act of 1984. Common carriers owe their passengers a heightened duty of care to protect them from harm and ensure that they arrive at their destinations safely. Companies that fail to meet this standard may be liable under Florida’s maritime and personal injury laws.

Recently, the Eleventh Circuit addressed a case where a cruise ship passenger and one of his friends assaulted another passenger. The court was tasked with determining what duty the cruise company owed to the assault victim in light of maritime law. In this case, the Plaintiff alleged that the cruise line was negligent because it failed to:

  1. Reasonably and properly train security personnel.
  2. Have adequate security measures, including adequate security presence and surveillance cameras.
  3. Warn him of the danger of being physically assaulted while onboard the vessel.
  4. Promulgate and enforce policies and procedures designed to prevent passengers from physically assaulting other passengers.
  5. Exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.

The court reasoned that the standard of reasonable care under maritime law typically requires that the cruise line have actual or constructive knowledge of the risk-creating situation. Further, while cruise lines are not “insurers” of their passengers’ safety, they maintain a duty to protect passengers from a particular injury.

In this case, the relevant issue is whether it knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Under the law, actual notice exists when the cruise line knows about the dangerous condition. Here, the victim argued that the cruise line had actual notice that the perpetrator was going to attack him because it had multiple security officers present during the verbal altercation that preceded the assault. However, the court held that while the presence of a security officer during disembarkation indicates some awareness of the need to maintain order, a verbal dispute does not provide actual notice that a physical assault will ensue. Further, the court held that the victim did not present evidence that the cruise ship had reason to believe that the perpetrator posed a specific danger to the victim. Thus, the court ruled in favor of the cruise line because of insufficient evidence.

Have You Suffered Injuries on a Cruise Ship?

If you or someone has suffered injuries stemming from an assault on a cruise ship, contact the experienced lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The South Florida cruise ship injury attorneys at our office have extensive experience successfully resolving complex accident cases on behalf of our clients. In addition to Florida cruise ship injuries, our office handles cases stemming from motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, and wrongful death. We have secured significant sums of compensation for our clients and their loved ones through our extensive knowledge, skills, and resources. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation.


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