Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia has been convicted of manslaughter following the deaths of 32 passengers and crew on the cruise liner. Unable to finish his final statement in front of three judges he broke down into tears.
The Costa Concordia disaster saw a cruise ship carrying 4,252 passengers capsize and sink on 13th January 2012. Captain Schettino claimed that the media had treated him unfairly and that the blame for the accident lay with his employer Costa Cruises.
While ship and boat owners do have a responsibility for what happens on their vessels and have a duty of care to those who travel on their vessel, safety must always be at the forefront of a Captain’s mind. The Captain owes passengers a duty of reasonable care and is always responsible for the safety of passengers aboard their vessel.
In the event of an accident at sea the Captain might make the call to “abandon ship”. After which it is customary for the Captain to remain the last person on board ensuring that everyone else is rescued first. Mr Schettino jumped ship before the evacuation was complete. The Captain also showed reckless disregard for safety by refusing Italian coastguard De Falco’s order for him to go back aboard the ship in order to co-ordinate the rescue.
Different countries have adopted different maritime laws over the centuries. The rule that a Captain should be the last to leave a distressed ship is a criminal act in Italian maritime code however in the United States it is not a criminal offence.
The successful prosecution against the Captain and the evidence presented during the trial is likely to be very useful for those family members who lost loved ones and those people injured in their Accident at Sea claims for compensation.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people injured at sea while on cruise ships as well as employees who have been injured whilst working on cruise ships. If you or your family member has an accident at sea call our Personal Injury Solicitors 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.
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