Lawyer Warns Victims It Is “Premature” To Accept Offers of Compensation
Travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell have today advised passengers of the Costa Concordia not to accept offers of settlement which have been reported as just €11,000
The warning came after reports emerged that the figure had been "agreed" following negotiations between Costa Cruises, part of the US-based Carnival Group, and a number of Italian consumer groups.
Now Clive Garner, head of International Travel Litigation at Irwin Mitchell, who is representing dozens of victims from the tragedy is urging passengers not to accept the offer which he described as having been made ‘far too early’. The offer comes less than two weeks after the incident in which at least 16 people died (as of January 27).
He said: “Our clear advice and that of our colleagues in Italy and Spain is that these offers should not be accepted.
“All of the passengers that we represent are continuing to suffer symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following their ordeals. From experience of many other similar disasters it is far too early to determine the likely duration of these symptoms and the effect they will have on the quality of life of the victims and their families.
“Severe cases of PTSD can have life changing consequences and it will take time for the full effects to be known.
"We are also investigating the value of other aspects of our client’s claims and it is totally premature for offers of settlement to be accepted. We fear that by accepting offers now, victims may be severely undercompensated for what they have suffered.
“Whilst we are pleased to see that the owners and insurers of the ship are seeking to resolve claims quickly we invite them to enter into sensible negotiations with us with a view to agreeing the method by which each of our clients can have their claims dealt with fully and fairly.
“We want to work with the ship owners on behalf of our clients but we need to make sure that the true impact of all of the injuries sustained is fully taken into consideration and that all losses are properly compensated. A knee-jerk offer which simply sees everyone as just a number, failing to consider each person and their needs, is not the way to approach this and could leave victims massively under compensated for their loss and suffering.”
Garner and his firm also acted for the victims and families of those killed in the Herald of Free Enterprise (Zeebrugge) disaster which killed 193 passengers and crew, the Marchioness disaster which caused the death of more than 50 passengers and the 2006 capsize of the Al Dana Dhow off the coast of Bahrain which left nearly 60 passengers and crew dead.
Garner said: “All of these disasters could and should have been avoided. As well as financial settlements for the victims, the investigations into each of these tragedies lead to calls for better regulation and important safety improvements for the design and management of vessels have been made as a result. But rather than reacting after an accident has occurred we want the regulators including the IMO to be more proactive in improving safety to avoid deaths and serious injuries rather than merely learning lessons after disasters like these have occurred. “
‘Regulations are struggling to keep up with the dramatic increase in size of ships and there has to be an urgent review to reassure all cruise passengers for the future that cruise travel can and will remain a safe way to holiday.”
He also commented that a recent incident in February 2010, in which the Concordia's sister ship the Costa Europa crashed into the quayside in Sharm El Sheikh, raised serious questions. Both ships are part of the Costa Cruiseline which is part of the giant Carnival Corporation.
Garner added, “Further questions will also need to be asked about the Cruise line's recent safety record, including the adequacy of its safety procedures and its training of crew to deal with onboard emergencies."