On Monday, we reported that the death toll as a result of the Costa Concordia ship wreck crash was at least six, and 16 passengers were reported as missing, including some Americans. According to reports published in the Huffington Post on Wednesday, the death toll has increased to 11, and 22 remain missing. Also, a hearing was held on Wednesday to determine whether or not the captain, Francesco Schettino, should be held in custody on charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Schetinno, reportedly, abandoned the Costa Concordia after it crashed into a rocky reef that tore a 70m gash in the boat’s hull. During Wednesday’s hearing before an investigating magistrate, Schettino denied allegations of abandoning the ship and claimed that he tripped into a lifeboat. A transcript of a telephone conversation between a port official and the captain has surfaced.
Apparently, the transcript suggests the captain abandoned the ship and a port official ordered him to return to the boat. But, the captain testified, “All of a sudden the boat listed between 60-70 degrees, I got trapped and ended up in one of the lifeboats. That's why I was in there. "Once it was over the side the boat wouldn't lower down into the water because it was blocked by one underneath." Schettino has been released from Grosseto jail and sentenced to house arrest.
In light of this tragic accident, we are sure that many Fort Lauderdale cruise line passengers have several concerns and contemplate who will ultimately be held responsible for the injuries and lives lost, in the event they experience a similar circumstance. While there may be strong arguments for a legal claim based upon negligence, whether or not this is a negligence issue will depend upon a number of factors, including maritime laws which govern injuries and accidents that occur on the high seas.
Generally, a cruise line owes a general duty of safe transportation to its passengers. In the United States, cruise ships departing from U.S. ports, are considered as common carriers pursuant to the Shipping Act of 1984. And as common carriers, cruise lines owe the highest amount of care and have a duty to choose the course of action which is less likely to expose its passengers from harm.
Further, if you are a Fort Lauderdale cruise line passenger, or a resident of Florida, under Florida law, law enforcement has special maritime jurisdiction over matters in which an offense has been committed against you. Moreover, you should always retain your cruise ship ticket because there is a high probability that the fine print, which is usually printed on the back, will specify where you can file your personal injury claim. Also, it may include information regarding the time limit in which you may be able to file a claim.
Nevertheless, many of us enjoy cruising on a ship and it is a popular choice for vacations, fun and relaxation. Yet, accidents do happen. If you have experienced an injury on a cruise ship, you should contact a Fort Lauderdale cruise ship lawyer to discuss your circumstances, and be sure that you are aware of the location which your injury occurred because this could be relevant in determining which laws apply.
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