Italian Cruise Ship, Costa Concordia, to Be Raised in September

The Costa Corcordia will finally be raised, 19 months after running aground off the western coast of Italy. The hull of the 952-foot boat had a 50-meter hole torn by a granite rock. 32 passengers died and several more suffered injuries while escaping the capsized ship. Several hours have already been dedicated to the ship's salvage, with over 500 people working to rescue the ship. The two firms working to salvage the wreck plan to use cables attached to hydraulic pumps to get the ship upright and onto a platform made of cement bags and an under-water steel structure. This process will take several hours and carries the risk of the ship breaking apart or sinking entirely.

The lessons of the Costa Corcordia extend past the wreckage rescue. Nearly a year ago a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of those seeking compensation for economic damage was dismissed by the presiding judge in Florida. Costa Concordia's parent company is Carnival Cruise Lines, whose headquarters are based in Florida. Several of the injured have filed different class action suits to recover damages ranging from medical bills incurred form physical injuries sustained to economic losses in tourist-centered businesses. The judge ruled that the suit should have been filed in Italy based on the legal concept of forum non conveniens, basically saying that Italy is the most appropriate forum for justice, not the United States. Injured passengers were quickly made aware that the documents signed prior to sailing limited their ability to sue in the United States.

Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court regarding froum clauses printed on the back of tickets . In that case, a woman injured while onboard a cruise ship attempted to sue in her home state instead of the state listed on the ticket, citing physical and financial limitations. Her ticket required all suits be filed in the state of the cruise line's headquarters, Florida. While a cruise line company cannot completely insulate themselves from liability through the contract signed by passengers, the court in that case ruled that the contract can limit the jurisdiction. Likewise, the time to file a suit can also be limited by the cruise ship ticket contract.

Negligence suits filed in maritime courts are similar to ones filed in other personal injury cases. To hold a cruise accountable for sustained injuries and property damage, the injured passenger must show that the cruise line was negligent. Cruise lines owe the duty of reasonable care to their passengers, and if they fail in this duty they may be liable for damages if it can be shown their negligence resulted in the injury to the passenger.

If you have been injured during your cruise ship voyage, contact the Washington cruise ship passenger injury attorneys, John Merriam and Gordon Webb. They have over 50 years of combined experience practicing maritime and admiralty law, and know how to maximize the compensation you deserve. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced attorneys, contact the office at 877.800.1007 for a free, confidential consultation today.

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