Travel expert advises against early Costa Concordia settlements

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Travel expert advises against early Costa Concordia settlements

1st February 2012

An expert in travel incidents has advised passengers of the ill-fated Costa Concordia against accepting any offers of settlement so soon after the incident in which at least 17 people died and another 16 remain unaccounted for.

Katherine Allen, head of the Travel and International Litigation department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, was speaking after reports that passengers were being offered 11,000 Euros each in compensation for the incident.

“These reported offers are being made far too early and I would strongly advise passengers against accepting them,” said Katherine, a partner at the firm. “This is not the time to be trying to settle cases early - there is an ongoing investigation, there are people still missing and there are passengers whose physical and psychological injuries suffered as a result of this tragedy are yet to be evaluated. The offers being made may well be insufficient to properly compensate passengers for their ordeal.”

Following negotiations with a number of Italian consumer groups, Costa Cruises, part of the US-based Carnival Group, have offered to pay each of the more than 3,000 passengers - on board when the vessel capsized off the island of Giglio two weeks ago - the reported sum in an effort to limit the legal fallout of the disaster.

“Costa Cruises should be urging their customers to seek independent legal advice, not handing out derisory sums to try and ensure as many passengers as possible drop any plans they might have for future litigation,” said Katherine. “Claims need to be investigated in detail and it is unfortunate these offers of settlement are being made so prematurely.

“It is very important passengers are now examined for any psychological trauma they may have suffered,” added Katherine. “This was undoubtedly a terrifying experience for those involved and there will be many passengers with significant post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms as a result. Such symptoms may not as yet have fully materialised and from our experience of similar PTSD cases, we know people react in different ways over varying periods of time. It is thus important to allow sufficient time for the full extent of this tragedy to become known.”

“What I would like to reiterate however is how crucial it is passengers understand that should they accept these premature offers of settlement they may very well be severely undercompensated for their loss and suffering,” continued Katherine. “Every passenger will have had a different experience and it is vital they are treated accordingly, that is - individually and fairly and on a case by case basis.”

Cruising is seen as a relatively safe form of travel. The kind of state-of-the-art cruise ships in operation today are like enormous floating hotels with an emphasis on ever more upper deck cabins. Given the significant numbers of people these vessels can accommodate, it is a miracle so many people were able to escape unharmed.

“This tragic incident raises many questions for the industry as a whole,” said Katherine, “and it is crucial cruise operators examine the quality of crew safety training, emergency evacuation procedures, and the adequacy of life-saving equipment on board their ships as well as the potential for massive electrical failure on ships of this stature.”

How can Fentons help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to holiday accidents and illness. If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.