After one of the worst maritime disasters in modern history, the Costa Concordia remains stranded where it sank some eight months ago. Now, according to coverage provided by the Associated Press, Italian officials are saying that the ship may not be removed until next spring, an enlargement of time from original estimates. Costa cruises is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, the Miami, FL, based cruise company that is the world’s largest by market share, accounting for annual revenue of $10.9 Billion in 2011, fully one-fifth of the international market.
The Concordia sank amidst gross negligent misconduct that is now the subject of criminal prosecution against the ship’s captain Francesco Schettino, who is charged with abandoning ship and manslaughter. Thirty-two people died in the incident. Transcripts from court proceedings are not favorable of the captain’s conduct: “The grave imprudence and incompetence that marked the conduct of the suspect at the time when he initiated the rash maneuver… is evident and indisputable.”
As the ship awaits removal, a number of civil suits have been filed against Costa Cruises, the captain, and the parent company. The cruise ship accident is the most egregious recent example of negligent conduct resulting in serious injury and death at sea, although, sadly, it is not the only example. Accidents at sea are often difficult to investigate because the authority first present to the scene of a crime or accident, in maritime cases, is often the ship’s own on-board response team. The conflict of interests is obvious: The people responsible for investigating such incidents are also the people with great incentive to cover up the incident, and possibly adulterate evidence. That, too, is not without precedent. A case that our cruise injury law firm took to trial featured a Carnival employee who was fired for not perjuring himself in court on behalf of his employer. The court held that allowing plaintiff to be subjected to retaliatory discharge would have constituted an abuse of defendant’s absolute right to terminate plaintiff, because utilization of the right contravened the established public policy of requiring truthful testimony in the adjudicatory process.
At any rate, Carnival Cruise Lines has a well-documented track record of hiding the truth and attempting to subvert the legal rights of the passengers and even their own crew after an accident. Whether you have been a victim in the Costa Concordia accident or another accident, incident or crime on the high seas, you have rights under the law, and you may not be fully aware of what you are entitled to. Our Costa Concordia lawyers and cruise accident attorneys know what the cruise lines don’t want you to know: Often the amount of time that you have to file a claim is limited below the usual statute of limitations due to efforts the cruise ship companies have undertaken to curtail such time limits. We have successfully sued Costa Cruises in Italy and in the United States. Speak with our cruise accident lawyers as soon as possible so that you can be fully aware of all of your legal rights and how to exercise them in the wake of a maritime incident or accident that is the fault of another party.