Washington, DC (PRWEB) July 12, 2012
One of the biggest news stories to emerge from the beginning of the year was the sinking of the Costa Concordia, and the circumstances that led to its demise. According to Rock Center, at least 32 people died in the crash, and those that survived are still trying to get some manner of justice for the hardships they were forced to endure. After initially being offered less-than enticing settlement packages, the survivors of the crash have started to seek legal counsel in an effort to secure a higher payout. But despite the grizzly circumstances around the crash, the laws associated with cruise ships could make it difficult for the survivors to receive what would be considered a fair settlement.
"Dealing with insurance companies is often an eye-opening experience for the uninitiated and that especially applies to mass claim cases, such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster," says Price Benowitz LLP Virginia personal injury lawyer Thomas Soldan. "Before embarking on a foreign adventure, it is important to know the limitations of coverage that you are bargaining for, both with your transportation carrier and with the foreign country you will be traveling in, if applicable. Most coverage options typically available to American travelers at home dissipate when foreign law takes jurisdiction just a few miles off the coast."
Most cruise ships are owned by large cruise companies, which keep the registrations for these vessels in other countries. These countries could have more lenient laws regarding cruise ship safety, and it makes it much more difficult for American citizens to bring action against them. According to the laws of the Costa Concordia via that Rock Center article, if someone would like to challenge the $14,500 settlement that the ship is responsible for paying out, they must do so in an Italian court. The $75,000 the ship has agreed to pay out as liability for loss of life is also well below other travel industry standards according to the article.
There is also the matter of the maritime laws that govern International Water. As is the case with most cruise ships, the Costa Concordia operated under its own set of laws because it was to be in International Waters for the majority of its trip. According to Rock Center, this is a common practice among cruise ships, and the laws can sometimes be restrictive or sprung on the patrons after they have already purchased the tickets for their cruise.
"This story also highlights a common thread throughout all personal injury litigation, at home and abroad," says Soldan, "and that is if the insurance carrier is offering a swift settlement and using expediency as a driving force in their negotiations, be suspicious, question their motives, and contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away."
The crew of the ship has received a lot of criticism from patrons who felt that the evacuation of the boat was not handled as efficiently or as professionally as it should have been. According to passengers on the vessel, via Rock Center, there was no safety drill conducted when the boat first set off, and the crew appeared to be unprepared during the evacuation. That includes crewmembers that had not even been told that the ship had hit something after the initial collision.
Price Benowitz LLP is a mid-sized, Washington D.C. Based law firm with offices in Maryland and Virginia. Please visit our Maryland personal injury lawyer and D.C. personal injury lawyer sites for more information on those offices, or to schedule a free consultation.