Monthly Archives: July 2012

Proudly Representing Cruise Ship Cases in Miami, Nearby Areas of Florida and Nationwide

Cruise companies are in the business of selling dreams.  They want their passengers to feel as if they are in a dream locale, eating the food of their dreams, in complete safety and tranquility.  It is a lofty goal.  But, as any parent knows, there is no escaping the real world, and this includes aboard cruise ships.  As tempting as it is to fully let your guard down, when it comes to the kids, parents must remain vigilant, even aboard the cruise ship during the vacation of your dreams.

Young children must be monitored, even aboard a cruise ship, which seems to be a safe place. Anyone who has been on a cruise ship has seen the youngsters, often as young as 5 or 6 years old, which seem to have free roam of the ship, with no parental supervision.  This is a big mistake.  There are numerous hazards for a young person aboard a cruise ship.  The most obvious include accident, such as falling in the pool or getting lost.  But, beware, the sexual assaults aboard cruise ships reportedly happen at a higher rate than on shore, and kids are often the victims.

The issue of sexual assault aboard cruise ships also affects teens, who are also frequently victimized by predators.  Of course teens are more responsible, and may be left to roam the ship freely.  But, it may be a good idea for the parents to, at least, have a few “check in” or “meet up” times throughout the day, and even institute a curfew.

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

Over six months ago, on January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia was steered off course in an attempt to perform a “salute” of the shore when the ship struck underwater rocks.  The impact tore a 100 foot gash into the side of the ship, which eventually caused the ship to sink in the shallow Tuscan waters.  32 people were killed, dozens more were injured.  Property was lost, and lives were forever changed.  But, over six months later, no one has been criminally charged in the Costa Concordia disaster.

The only reported arrest in connection with the sinking of the Concordia was of the former captain, Francesco Schettino.  However, after being placed on house arrest for several months, Schettino has been freed to roam his tiny Italian town.  So when, if ever, will charges be leveled against those who are responsible?

Without a doubt the Italian authorities wish to build an air-tight case against all of those who were responsible for the accident.  News reports have suggested that Schettino could face charges of manslaughter, and abandoning ship.  However, these same reports indicate that several other executives and officers of the cruise line may also face criminal charges in connection with the crash.

Meanwhile, the Concorida is undergoing a year long process of salvage.  The salvage companies involved have described the salvage as the largest salvage of its kind in history.  Perhaps investigators are waiting for additional information which can only be attained when the ship has been fully floated and towed to an Italian port.

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

Let’s be honest. We go on a cruise vacation in order to have a good time. We want to let our hair down, have a few drinks perhaps, and relax. But, it is very easy to forget that we still have responsibilities while on the cruise ship. Real life still goes on. Recently introduced “a ll you can drink” packages seem to actually encourage passengers to drink more. So, here we  see a couple of youtube.com clips of drink cruisers:

According to the caption which accompanied this clip – this woman was drinking heavily before the cruise ship’s muster drill – where she can be seen here – on the floor laughing. We have no way of authenticating this video – but it is funny.

Here is another woman. She seems to be having the time of her life! Apparently she had a little too much to drink, and found herself rolling on the cruise ship floor.

Sometimes it is good to take a look at others in order to avoid being one of them. We don’t knock going on a cruise vacation in order to have a good time. But, we do suggest doing it responsibly. Know your limits. Use common sense. And, avoid being one of the cruise ship drunks.

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys handles cases of personal injury, cruise ship injury and sexual assault, and other personal injury cases.

An employee of Celebrity Cruise Lines has been arrested and held in Messina, Italy, on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female passenger aboard the Celebrity Equinox.  The details of the attack are still coming out, but the alleged attack seems to follow a pattern of sexual assault by cruise ship employees, which we have seen time and time again here at the Hickey Law Firm, P.A.

The alleged incident took place Friday aboard the Celebrity Equinox, during its 11-day sailing out of Civitavecchia, Italy.  The male employee, who is said to normally work with the company on their shore side operations, was aboard the ship conducting business.   After passing several hours drinking with a 30 year old female passenger at the ship’s bar, the woman became tired and decided to retire to her cabin.  The man is said to have followed her to the cabin where he forced his way in and sexually assaulted her.

Though all the details are not yet released, the story follows a well known pattern as it relates to cruise ship sexual assault.  The fact is that many times the attacker, who usually a cruise ship employee, may not even need to force his way into the cabin because many cruise ship employees have a masterkey.

Cruise lines have been found wanting in their protection of employees and passengers.  They have have also been found to conduct insufficient background checks of people who ultimately become employees – people who are given access to the staterooms, and therefore belongings, of tens of thousands of passengers.

 

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

It is hard to imagine what it must feel like to be responsible for the sinking of a 4000 passenger cruise ship.  It is difficult for the average person to know that your decisions resulted in the largest cruise ship sinking in modern history, leading to the loss of 32 lives and the injury of dozens more.   It is difficult to imagine how that must feel.  But, if you are the former captain of the Costa Concordia – you’d apparently have a clear conscience.

Francesco Schettino, the former captain of the fated Costa Concordia, which sank on Juanuary 13, has described his conscience as “clear’ as it relates to the events of that night.  This, despite the fact that 32 people died, this despite the fact that he is on record as having abandoned ship, this despite the fact that he was in control of the ship at the time of the accident.

Clearly there must be more people responsible for the crash than just Schettino.  If the ship was truly off course, someone should have known about it at headquarters.  If the captain was routinely allowed to go off the scheduled course – without having to provide an adequate explanation – that in itself is a breakdown in the command structure at the cruise line.  But, in some very significant, very visceral way – the captain is responsible what what happens on his or her ship.  This is why they are barred from abandoning ship when the ship is in trouble, until every passenger is safely off.

That Francesco Schettino can say he has a clear conscience about the events of January 13 says more about him, than it does what happened.

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys handles cases of personal injury, cruise ship injury and sexual assault, and other personal injury cases.

The next time you take a cruise, pay special attention to the agreement you accept before boarding the ship.  This is called the “cruise contract,” and can usually be found posted on your respective cruise line’s website.  These cruise contracts govern much of what happens when you have a dispute with the cruise company, so they are very important.  Here are some areas of particular interest:

1. Cruise Lines Can Change Arrival and Departure Times Due To Weather – We have written about this one many times before because last summer hundreds of passengers sailing with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines were left stranded in Puerto Rico.  As a hurricane threatened, the cruise ships decided to sail early, without notifying the passengers.  Those who were left behind had to fend for themselves, including finding hotel rooms and paying for flights to get home, or link back up with the cruise ship.   Neither cruise line was responsible to reimburse the stranded passengers.  Royal Caribbean actually refused to reimburse the passengers, until a huge commotion on the internet caused them to relent.

2. The Cruise Line May Change The Itinerary Without Notice – Say you have been saving for years, to take your dream cruise, and you finally book the right cruise, sailing to the right destinations, at the right time, for the right price.  You would be shocked if you were to board the ship, and find that the cruise line has actually changed the ports of call.  However, this does happen.  According to the cruise contract the company may change the ports of call “for any reason, at any time, without prior notice.”

3. The Cruise Ship Doctor’s Poor Medical Care Is Not Our Fault - Many cruise ship contracts actually specify that, should a passenger receive poor medical care from the ship’s on-board doctor, the cruise line is not at fault.  Put another way, the ship’s doctor works directly for the patient, i.e. the passenger who needs medical care, and not the cruise line.  Any malpractice, according to the contract, is not the fault of the cruise line.

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

As an example of the dangers of cruising – we recently brought a video of a cruise ship in stormy seas. The dramatic video was shot about a year and a half ago, but the description of the video was not immediately available.  Now, we have another view of the cruise ship in stormy seas, as well as a description of what was happening, and what caused the ship to lose control.

The Clelia II was sailing an Artic itinerary when it lost power to one of its engines.  Apparently 55 mile per hour winds and serious ocean waves were too much for the ship.

The ship, which was carrying 160 people at the time, can be seen here being tossed violently by the waves of the ocean.  There were no reports of deaths among the 100 passengers and crew.

The ship, operated by Polar Cruises of Bend, Oregon, arrived safely to port.

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

Francesco Schettino, infamous captain of the fated cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, has been set free from house arrest by an Italian judge.  The former captain of the cruise ship, which sank on January 13, 2012, will have be able to freely roam in his tiny Italian town, approximately six months after being placed under house arrest in the wake of the disaster.

Italian judge, Valeria Montesarchio, found that the former captain is not a fight risk, and allowed his to leave his home for the first time after nearly half a year’s house arrest.  Though the captain served a considerable amount of time under arrest, neither he, nor anyone else, has been charged in the sinking of the Concordia, which killed 32 people and wounded dozens more.

Instead, Schettino will have free roam of the tiny Italian town of Meta di Sorrento, quite a step up for a man who is facing charges including manslaughter, and abandoning ship.

The aftermath of the sinking of the Concordia is still being felt across the world.  The legal processes still continue, including the investigation into the sinking from a criminal standpoint, and the civil lawsuits which have been brought against Costa, and its parent company Carnival Cruise Lines.

Meanwhile, the Concordia is being salvaged.  In what is being described as the largest maritime salvage ever, the 4000 passenger ship is being fitted with flotation devices, the first step in a year long process which will see the ship cleared of all water, floated, and towed to an Italian port.  Because the ship currently rests in a pristine ecological preserve, the salvage must be done very delicately.

 

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys