An Overview of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

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    An Overview of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

    Cruise ship companies are held to federal rules regarding safety and security measures for passengers. They must also report accurate information regarding onboard assaults and crimes to the FBI.

    Before the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) passed in 2010, there were no rules governing cruise ship reporting of crime and injury data. Now, the CVSSA requires cruise ships to log and report certain incidents to the FBI. It also requires cruise ships to maintain certain safety and security measures aboard ships for passengers, such as having surveillance systems on board. The CVSSA also requires cruise ship companies to follow additional rules, such as those pertaining to onboard hospital staff for victims of sexual assaults. If a cruise ship violates any aspects of the CVSSA or otherwise acts negligently, causing your injuries, you can file a lawsuit for compensation. Our attorneys can help you do this so that you can recover the compensatory damages you deserve after an accident at sea.

    For a free case review from the cruise ship accident lawyers of Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., call (305) 204-5369 now.

    History of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

    After several Congressional hearings, mainly prompted after the disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise, President Obama signed into law the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, which addresses several security and safety issues aboard cruise ships. Although not a complete solution, it was a very positive step in the industry.

    This law provides important protections, and exists, and in part: “to enhance the safety of cruise passengers, the owners of cruise vessels could upgrade, modernize and retrofit to safety and security infrastructure of such vessels in installing peep holes in passenger room doors, installing security video cameras in targeted areas, limiting access to passenger rooms to select staff during specific times and installing acoustic hailing and warning devices capable of communicating over distances.”

    The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was a result of several years of attempts to see changes in the cruise ship industry, and was prompted in large part due to the wide spread public awareness of the disappearance of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship. Because our cruise ship injury lawyers represented the parents of George Smith IV in their claims against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, we have considerable experience with matters surrounding the CVSSA and its impact on victims. The CVSSA has remained largely unchanged since its creation in 2010.

    Requirements of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

    The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act exists so that there is oversight regarding accidents and crimes that occur on cruise ships. Under the CVSSA, cruise lines that make port in the United States have to maintain logs of incidents, such as theft, disappearances, and sexual assaults, so that they can then report such incidents to the FBI.

    Maintain Logs of Incidents

    Our cruise ship injury lawyer Brett Rivkind was an invited maritime legal expert during Congressional hearings, being questioned about security measures and safety aboard passenger cruise ships. During the Congressional hearings, one aspect of concern that was addressed was the lack of mandatory reporting requirements in the cruise ship industry when a crime does occur onboard the ship. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 addresses this problem, and now requires cruise ship companies to maintain logs that record all complaints of crimes, all complaints of theft of property in excess of $1,000 and all complaints of other crimes.

    Cruise ships must report other incidents, such as assaults with serious bodily injury, suspicious deaths, missing persons, and sexual assaults, as well as theft. If you were injured on a cruise, even if you were not a victim of a crime, you should still report the accident to the cruise line. Even if the incident does not fall under the logging requirements of the CVSSA, it will be important for you to create documentation of the event for the purposes of your own financial recovery. For example, if you were hurt in a slip and fall accident due to negligent deck maintenance, you could sue the cruise line for injury, even though you were not intentionally harmed.

    Crime Prevention

    In addition to maintaining logs of onboard crimes, disappearances, and other incidents, cruise ships must also adhere to other requirements outlined in the CVSSA. Such requirements include maintaining video surveillance systems on board, providing records relating to an incident to law enforcement, and providing a criminal activity prevention and response guide to each passenger. Such guides should include information regarding one’s appropriate and immediate response to an incident and their means of obtaining medical care aboard a cruise ship. This guide must also be published on the cruise ship company’s website. There are additional protocols cruise ships must follow regarding certain incidents under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, like sexual assaults.

    Report Incidents to the FBI

    Cruise ship owners also must make these log books available upon request of any agent of the FBI. The cruise ship companies have to report any incident involving a homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States National, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury or theft of monies or property in excess of $1,000 to the FBI.

    In order to better educate the public, the cruise ship owners shall also “furnish a written report of the incident to an internet based portal maintained by” the U.S. Coast Guard and “each cruise taking or discharging passengers in the United States shall include a link on its internet website to the [USCG] website.”

    Although following short of all that is required to address cruise ship safety, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 as a positive movement towards increased safety legislation applicable to the cruise ship industry. This is reinforced by the fact that cruise line incident reports are made available to the public under the CVSSA, which are published quarterly by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Outcome of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

    The purpose of the CVSSA is to increase transparency between cruise lines and passengers and ensure that cruise ships are held to a higher standard regarding safety and security. But, since the implementation of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in 2010, has it been effective?

    Cruise ships that make port in the United States have to comply with the provisions of the CVSSA, meaning most cruises that American passengers take should be compliant. That said, not all incidents and injuries are reported to cruise ships, which might skew the numbers. Moreover, just because the information regarding such incidents on cruises is accessible to passengers through various websites and publications does not mean passengers are aware of such information or understand its implications.

    The outcome of the CVSSA has been that the FBI has been able to compile and more easily investigate instances of disappearances and other crimes or incidents abroad cruises. While cruise lines are required to report crime logs to the FBI under the CVSSA, the legislation does not require that cruise lines have law enforcement on board. That is to say, cruise ships are not necessarily safer since the passing of the CVSSA, but there is more transparency and information available to interested passengers.

    The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act and Liability for Cruise Ship Injuries

    Because the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act gives requirements for cruise lines regarding passenger safety, it can also provide examples of when victims can hold a cruise ship company liable for injuries sustained on board.

    Under the CVSSA, the civil penalty for violations is $25,000 for each day that the violation continues, with continuing violations capping out at $50,000. Then there are criminal penalties, which might come with fines of up to $250,000 or one year in jail for cruise ship owners. These penalties would be totally separate from your lawsuit, which you could file against the cruise ship company provided its negligence led to your accident or injuries.

    Claims can be brought against cruise ships for various incidents, such as sexual assaults or physical assaults. This might be because of vicarious liability, which extends liability for a victim’s damages to the at-fault party’s employer, under certain circumstances.

    Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, the jurisdiction for your claim might differ. Some cruises require passengers to bring claims in specific jurisdictions. For example, if your cruise departed from Florida, you might have to file your lawsuit there, even if you were hurt at sea. We can determine if the cruise ship company violated requirements of the CVSSA or acted negligently in other ways so that you can file a lawsuit to recover the damages you need.

    Call Our Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers to Discuss Your Case Now

    Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369 for a free assessment of your case from our cruise ship injury lawyers.

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