It has been a year since the Costa Concordia disaster. The cruise ship is still lying on its side, half submerged, off the coast of the Italian Island of Giglio. According to popularmecanics.com, the $400 million salvage job, said to be the largest of its kind in maritime history, has been hampered by rough weather and technical difficulties, pushing the plan to re-float the ship from this spring to September of this year. Two companies are working together on this salvage operation: Florida's Titan and its Italian partner, Micoperi. The two companies plan is to tow the wreck to a shipyard where its owners plan to dismantle it.
The scene of the tragedy where 32 people lost their lives has itself become a touristic attraction, one that almost led to tragedy recently as a group of thrill-seeking tourists had to be rescued when their dinghy almost sunk in the cold waters. Even commercial pilots flying overhead routinely point it out to their passengers. The wreckage has been photographed from space.
Legal Process Continues
The legal process in Italy continues at a very slow pace. The Concordia's Captain, Francesco Schettino may go on trial later this year together with seven other officers and crew members. The most important development in the legal process is that the Italian authorities said earlier this week, that they would charge the cruise ship's owner, Costa Crociere, with gross negligence. This new development might have important consequences for Costa Crociere's corporate parent, Miami based Carnival Cruise Lines.
Another important development is that the United States Coast Guard and the United States National Transportation Safety Board are joining the investigation. However, since the criminal process precedes the civil lawsuits, the full evidence (including the black box recordings) have yet to be fully investigated and disclosed in the civil cases. Until then, the real cause of the accident will not be known.
New Safety Rules
The Cruise Lines International Association, which is a group of 26 major cruise lines, has announced throughout the year the implementation of a series of new safety rules, which ended up being put together into ten new rules:
- Bridge access: Access to a ship's bridge will be limited to crew with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required to minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions.
- Consistent bridge procedures: Cruise operators must implement consistent operating procedures on the bridge among ships of different brands owned by the same company
- Passage planning: All bridge team members must be briefed on passage planning in advance of implementation, and the plan should be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the captain.
- Passenger nationality: This policy requires that the nationality of each passenger on a cruise ship be recorded and made readily available to search-and-rescue staff as appropriate.
- Passenger muster: Cruise lines are required to conduct emergency muster drills for embarking passengers before ships leave port, which exceeds the previous requirement of within 24 hours of departure.
- Musters and emergency instructions: Member cruise lines agreed on 12 common elements that'll be communicated to passengers in musters and emergency instructions, including a description of key safety systems and features, location of life jackets and how to recognize emergency exits.
- Lifeboat loading training: Crew with responsibility for lifeboats on a large oceangoing ship must practice loading and maneuvering at least one full vessel every six months.
- Location of life jackets: Requires life jackets to be stowed near muster stations or lifeboats so they are easily accessible if there's an emergency.
- Excess life jackets: Cruise ships will carry additional adult life jackets, making sure the number is never less than the number of passengers aboard.
- Securing equipment: Cruise lines must put in place procedures to secure heavy items such as pianos, treadmills or televisions at all times, either permanently, when not being used or in case of bad weather, to avoid injury.
The International Maritime Organization is considering whether to make these new rules mandatory for all cruise ships.
A Sinking Ship Is Not The Only Danger Faced When Cruising
A sinking ship is not the only danger faced by cruise ship passengers. For example, passengers can also get injured when they slip on a wet floor or trip on a damaged carpet and fall. All kinds of accidents happen during cruise vacations, both on and off the ship. Passengers have suffered injuries while involved in any one of the following land based activities:
- Scuba diving or snorkeling
- Jet skiing
- ZIP lining
- Excursions on bicycles, on motorbikes or on 4X4 vehicles like Jeeps, etc.
We Can Help
Our law firm has often seen cruise lines pressure passengers that have suffered injuries onboard their ships into accepting a refund as compensation for their injuries in exchange for a full release of the cruise lines responsibility. An injured passenger should not allow the cruise line to pressure you into accepting an offer that is typically unfair. Cruise passenger's have rights and should immediately consult ( for free) with a law firm with experience handling cruise ship claims. Our firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for a death or a serious injury. It is important for you to remember that most cruise passenger tickets (contracts) establish a six month from the date of the claim where you must give written notice of the claim to the company (among other requirements) and limit your ability to sue to one year from the date of the accident.
Therefore, it is essential that you consult with and hire an experienced cruise line passenger lawyer as soon as possible. You should not be concerned about fees or costs: most Florida lawyers will not charge you for the initial consultation and will work your case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not be charged fees or costs, unless the lawyer wins your case.
If you or a close relative suffered an injury while on a cruise, we urge you to contact a law firm with experience handling cruise ship injury cases. The Cruise Lines Injury Lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have handled many such cases against these cruise lines over the years and can help you obtain the compensation you may deserve.
Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today.