With 11 confirmed deaths and at least 20 people still missing, the Concordia cruiseship disaster continues to garner attention from the international press and public. In the immediate aftermath of the Costa Cruise disaster, images of the listing cruise ship are everywhere you look. The media continues to present up-to-the minute details of the search and rescue efforts. It seems with each passing day, more controversy comes to light and new investigations and lawsuits are opened.
And although the impact on Carnival Corporation, the owner of Costa, is uncertain, the future of the cruise industry does not appear to be a mystery to many cruise industry experts.
According to The New York Times, January is the beginning of the cruise industry’s peak season, as it is the time when the cruise lines typically book a third to half of their reservations for the entire year.
Despite the tragedy, most predictions about the future of the cruise industry are optimistic. According to The New York Times, experts say the Costa tragedy has not caused an increase in passenger fear and that the Costa tragedy will have no long-term impact on the cruise industry. According to The Huffington Post, other experts doubt there will be any impact on demand, while others still predict a blitz of price slashing by Carnival followed by an uptick in sales.
By most accounts, it seems likely that the cruising public will continue to fill the ships in spite of the Costa tragedy. The Costa tragedy has, however, underscored just how important it is that passengers know their legal rights in the event that tragedy should strike.
Most cruise ship passengers are unaware of the restrictions placed on their right to sue when they are injured on a cruise ship. The majority of cruise lines, including Costa Crociere, have clauses in their tickets which specify where and when injured passengers can file suit. These clauses typically provide for a shorter statute of limitations (usually one year), and require passengers to file suit in a particular court or jurisdiction. In the case of passengers who were injured or died on the Concordia, they are unlikely to be able to file suit in the United States because the terms of their passenger ticket reportedly require them to file suit in Italy. Although there has been some discussion in the maritime legal community as to whether the forum selection clause would be enforceable against United States citizens because the accident appears to have resulted from reckless, rather than negligent conduct, on the part of the ship, this argument has yet to be tested, and if successful, would be the exception to the rule. In all likelihood, passengers who were injured or died on the Concordia will likely be forced to file suit in Italy, rather than in the United States, which will significantly impair their ability to recover money (although given the evidence that has come out so far about the accident, Costa may well want to settle these cases to avoid any additional negative publicity).
If you are a passenger who was injured on the Concordia, or another cruise ship, and have questions about your legal rights, our office may be able to assist you. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.