Legal Fight For British Costa Concordia Disaster Victims Set For Italian Courts

Costa Concordia Captain Found Guilty After Criminal Trial


British and other passengers suffering from physical and severe psychological injuries after they were forced to flee the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship when it capsized in January 2012 welcomed the news that the Captain of the ship was found guilty today (11th February 2014) as they continue their legal battle for justice in the Italian courts.

Francesco Schettino, former Captain of the Costa Concordia has been on trial in Grosseto in Tuscany on criminal charges including multiple manslaughter, causing an environmental disaster and abandoning ship on the night of the disaster that claimed 32 lives.

Today he was found of manslaughter of 32 people and sentenced to 16 years in prison but the legal battle for justice continues for passengers and crew who suffered physical injury and psychological symptoms including post-traumatic stress disorder, causing flashbacks, nightmares and a fear of travelling after the disaster on 13 January 2012. 

Leading International Personal Injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are now working with Italian lawyers to issue court proceedings for a dozen passengers and crew through the Italian legal system while, last year, the law firm also secured undisclosed settlements for a number of other British passengers through the UK courts against cruise operator Costa Crociere Spa to include compensation for their pain and suffering and other financial losses.

Expert Opinion
It was over three years ago when the Costa Concordia sank - this is unthinkable in modern times and was life-changing experience for those onboard.

“All of our clients suffered a horrendous ordeal which some may never truly overcome. The trauma they have been through has left some of them needing specialist therapy and counselling to come to terms with what happened and enable them to begin to move on with their lives.

“Although nothing can turn back the clock, the settlements we have already secured will help those affected to access the treatments they need, cover their lost earnings from time they have had to have off work and replace the personal items they lost on board. It will also compensate them for pain and suffering. We are now continuing to fight for the rights of the remaining passengers and crew whose cases have not yet settled.

“It is also vital that all cruise operators learn from the information gathered from the Captain’s criminal trial as well as the many other investigations into what happened so that the risk of any similar accidents being repeated is reduced.”
Philip Banks, Partner
More than 4,000 passengers and crew were on board the Costa Concordia ship when it hit a rock near the island of Giglio, an island off Italy’s western coast. The impact ripped a hole in the hull and 32 people died as the ship capsized.

Among the passengers were dancers working on the ship including Joe Stribley, 23 from Maidstone in Kent.

He said: “On the evening of 13 January 2012, I wasn’t working; I was just relaxing in my cabin when I felt the ship rock. I looked out of my cabin door and could hear glasses falling off the shelves and smashing on the floor. Then came the signal to abandon ship.

“I saw that the ship was starting to sink and extreme panic set in and I thought that I was going to die. People started to jump into the water and, feeling this was my only option, I did the same and managed to get to the shore.

“When I finally got home, I was very withdrawn, still in shock and disbelief as to what had happened. Every time I closed my eyes I could see it all happening again and I couldn’t sleep for several weeks as I suffered from terrible flashbacks and nightmares.  It affected my whole life, including my ability to work and I continue to suffer today.

“I am happy with the outcome but at the same time I didn’t really know what to expect.  It’s all just sinking in.”

Another dancer Rosalyn Rincon, from Blackpool in Lancashire was terrified and feared for her life whilst struggling to get to shore from the cruise ship.

The 33-year-old, said: “It felt like a horrible nightmare; I was trying to help other passengers get to safety and then suddenly realised that there were no other lifeboats. It dawned on me that I was not going to be rescued – I couldn’t stop shaking and started to really panic.

“We were told by crew to jump into the water and swim as far away from the ship as possible – I knew I had no choice other than to jump from the back of the ship. I was absolutely terrified but I knew it was the only way to get off the ship – loads of passengers and crew started to jump into the water below and swam to the shore.

“When I got home, my family and friends noticed a dramatic change in me, I had lost all my confidence and struggled to come to terms with what had happened I was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and started counselling sessions to help me with the flashbacks and I eventually stopped having nightmares.”

Andrea Davis from Alberta in Canada was onboard the Costa Concordia to celebrate her husband’s 60th birthday.

She said: “This trip was meant to be an exciting and memorable journey to celebrate Lawrence’s birthday, but instead it ended in disaster as we feared for our lives as we had to abandon ship – it was utter chaos.

“I was diagnosed with an acute stress disorder and feel like I am a completely different person to what I was before boarding the cruise ship. The trauma my husband and I went through has had such a dramatic impact on my life, ruining my family life and also relationships with friends as I feel unable to socialise.

“I feel pain and sorrow for the victims who died and the families left behind.  I am in a lot of turmoil and there are no winners in this situation.  We have to encourage justice and I hope that this outcome make people think about their behaviour and its outcomes.  There needs to be justice for the pain which has been suffered.”