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Tristan Hallam: Ferry Disaster Costa Concordia

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

One of the greatest concerns that any personal injury lawyer has in bringing proceedings involving an accident on board a ship is that there is, in the vast majority of cases, a cap on the amount of compensation that can be paid.  This cap is in any event a pool limited to a certain amount against which all the Claimants have to seek compensation. It is where serious accidents are involved, generally far short of what should rightly be paid and what should form therefore a compensation pool for the injured parties to claim against. My initial concern in the accident involving the Costa Concordia is that the owners of the vessel will seek to rely upon these provisions which would leave any Claimant most likely receiving significantly less than they are entitled too.  The Times on the 18th January had on page 3, a synopsis of radio traffic that took place between the skipper on the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino and Captain De Falco of the Italian coastguard which may go part way to explaining how the crash occurred.  The article also suggests that there may be significant error that caused this tragedy, in which case there is a slim chance and nothing more than a slim chance at this stage, that a Court might accept that the Defendant should not have the entitlement of limiting the compensation cap. On occasions depending upon the circumstances of the accident and the degree of fault that has been placed upon the Defendant, this cap can effectively be broken and put to one side entitling the Claimant’s to proceed to their full entitlement in compensation rather than limiting them in the amount they receive.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.