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Case study: Costa Concordia cruise disaster 2012

Most people have some memory of the Costa Concordia cruise disaster that occurred in 2012. The sinking of a cruise ship is exceptionally rare, but on 13th January 2012, this is exactly what happened to the Costa Concordia. The ship had not adhered to the route she should have stuck to, and the deviation led to her hitting a rock under the water. The damage was too great for the ship to stay afloat, and she drifted and started listing quite badly to one side.

After a time, the ship started to tip over to the opposite side, which is thought to have occurred because of the water that had been let on board through the damaged hull. The Costa Concordia cruise disaster had begun, and nothing was going to keep the ship from sinking.

How many people were on board?

The Costa Concordia cruise disaster occurred on a week-long cruise that had only just begun. It had a complement of 3,206 passengers on board, together with 1,023 crew members. The journey began when the Costa Concordia departed Civitavecchia, an Italian port, at 7.18pm local time. A little over two hours later, at 9.45pm, the ship hit the rocks just off the coast of Giglio, a small Italian island. It was discovered the cruise ship had deviated from the route it had taken on previous cruises. Furthermore, Captain Francesco Schettino had given the command to take the ship far closer to the island than had been done previously. This was ordered as a way of saluting the island.

The official report into the Costa Concordia cruise disaster revealed that a call was received by authorities at 10.06pm from the mother of a passenger who had reported to her what was happening on board. A boat was sent out to investigate and it was only when asked by MRSC Livorno (search and rescue) that the captain confirmed the situation. Before that, he only spoke of a blackout on board and that they were trying to confirm what was happening. At that stage, he later requested the help of a tug boat.

Abandon ship

This order finally came at 10.54pm, as indicated in the step-by-step report of the timeline covering the incident. This was just over 30 minutes after passengers had been instructed to put on their lifebelts and wait for further instructions. Many of the passengers on board eventually escaped in the lifeboats. The rescue operation was difficult, however, given the angle of the ship by this time.

Captain Schettino eventually left the ship himself at 11.19pm, and in doing so left the second master in charge. Yet the second master was confirmed to leave the ship just 13 minutes after the captain. At this point in the Costa Concordia cruise disaster, some 300 people were still on board, not including some crew members.

How many died in the Costa Concordia cruise disaster?

32 people died in the disaster. A further 64 people received injuries. By the end of the month in which the Costa Concordia disaster occurred, the company responsible for the cruise had put together a compensation package for guests on board the ship who had since returned home. This included a lump sum of 11,000 euros for each individual. The package also included full reimbursement of the cost of the cruise, including travel expenses and medical expenses, as well as any other expenses incurred while on board the cruise ship.

Captain Francesco Schettino was later found guilty of multiple manslaughter charges in 2015. He was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison. He also earned the nickname ‘Captain Coward’ for his role in the Costa Concordia cruise disaster. While he did accept a degree of responsibility, he claimed his actions at the time prevented further deaths from occurring.

How safe is the cruise industry?

Cruising is a very safe type of holiday to go on. Indeed, the industry has been booming in recent years. In 2009, 17.8 million people went on a cruise of some sort. The forecast for 2016 (actual figures are not yet available) was said to be around the 24.2 million figure. Very few of those millions of people ever experience any adverse situations while cruising. Injuries are exceptionally rare and situations that involve the capsizing of cruise ships are rarer still. This is partly why we all remember the Costa Concordia cruise disaster, because it is very uncommon for something like this to happen.

One survey on US adults found only 25% of those aged 65 and over thought cruises were worry-free, compared to 41% of those in the 18 to 34 age group. Conversely, 49% in the younger age group were less likely to go on a cruise in 2014 compared with the year before, and that percentage rose to 58% in the older age group.

What should you do if you are injured on board a cruise ship?

Serious accidents such as this are rare, as we’ve learned. However, even a simple accident such as a slip or trip on board a ship can still result in injuries. If you’ve been hurt in any way that might point to negligence on the part of someone on the cruise ship, you could be entitled to claim some compensation. Calling Accident Advice Helpline is a good idea in this situation, and you can do this on 0800 689 5659.

Seeking no-obligation advice from solicitors who have handled similar claims before is a good idea, and you’re guaranteed to get that advice from our team when you call. No matter how mild or serious your injuries are, tell us about them today to see whether you could make a no win no fee claim to seek a compensation award. We understand an unexpected injury can ruin any holiday, and one on board a cruise ship is no exception. Find out whether we are able to help you by calling us now.