Each cruise ship accident lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has represented hundreds of victims who have been hurt or lost a loved one due to a cruise line’s negligent actions. Of these the vast majority have received compensation either through a jury award subsequent to a Trial or through an Arbitration Award or as a result of a Settlement negotiated by us on our client’s behalf.
However, we do not get the honor of representing all the victims that are injured or lose a love one due to the negligence of the cruise lines. Additionally, many times, cruise lines dodge liability for accidents on the high seas or in port all together because most ships are registered in foreign ports, diverting all responsibility for an accident investigation to that particular government’s police and investigative authorities.
However, in the case of the Costa Concordia capsizing tragedy of January 2012, Costa Crociere, the owner of Costa Cruises, has been issued a 1 million Euro administrative fine for the many errors and violations committed by the Concordia both leading up to the accident as well as those committed during the emergency evacuation process. But as with many other cruise industry matters, there is a major loophole in Costa’s advantage. Once the fine is paid, the cruise company will not be prosecuted for the cruise ship accident, and instead, will take part in the hearing as a victim that lost its ship.
According to a lawyer for Costa Crociere, Marco De Luca, the verdict was “the most wise and balanced verdict that could have occurred under these circumstances.”
The Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Giglio, Italy on Jan. 13, 2012 after the vessel’s captain, Francesco Schettino, decided to alter the ship’s course at the last minute to perform what is called a “salute.” The salute brings the ship close to shore, but since the decision was made without prior consideration to area, the Concordia crashed against a massive rock, which tore a gash in the hull of the vessel and caused the ship to partially sink.
Hundreds of cruise passengers were injured and 32 people were killed as a result of Schettino’s actions. But the violations didn’t stop at the point in which Schettino decided to make an unprecedented and unapproved change in course. According to Concordia passengers who survived the devastating cruise ship accident, the evacuation process was a nightmare.
Schettino and several crewmembers have been accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship, and are scheduled to stand trial this year. In the meantime, the Concordia remains in its watery grave in Italy, serving as a reminder that the cruise industry is severely lacking safety protocols.
Sadly, the cruise industry has yet to recognize the fact that improving crew work hours and benefits and increasing safety protocols for all souls on board cruise ship’s is in the longer run cheaper and better than continuing to place thousands of lives at risk for serious – if not fatal – cruise ship accidents.
Top Right: Costa Concordia remains under water – cruisecritic.com
Bottom Left: Former Concordia captain Francesco Schettino charged with manslaugter and abandoning ship – firenze.repubblica.it