The recent shipwreck of the Italian cruise liner Concordia presents many legal challenges that will certainly be closely examined in the days and weeks to come. For one, there is the issue of the Italian captain leaving the ship instead of staying to help with the rescue effort. Although it is at this time unclear exactly what the legal consequences of his abandoning the ship will be, this is an issue that everyone following this tragedy will get to learn more about. Maritime law is not something most in the legal community, much less the general public, are familiar with and this incident should certainly enlighten all of us on this issue.
In addition to the possible charges of manslaughter to be levied against the captain, there are numerous environmental concerns that this tragedy raises. There are thousands of gallons of fuel oil as well as other dangerous substances on board the ship that risk leaking into the surrounding waters. Any major leak of fluids from the ship could spark a major environmental disaster, with lawsuits against the company who owns the cruise line as well as the captain certain to follow. Stock in Carnival Cruise Lines, the parent company of the company that owns Concordia, has already taken a hit. The disaster is also bound to adversely affect a tourism industry already hurt by the struggling economy.
When any major incident like this one occurs, numerous legal issues abound. While the loss of life involved in such an incident is tragic, occurrences such as this one can be learned from. The laws regarding navigation of large vessels and the duties of a captain should be reexamined so that a disaster like this one never happens again. If any of the fuel begins to leak, an environmental disaster could result. The bottom line is that this incident should serve as a learning experience for the legal community so that we can do our part to make certain that an event like this never happens again.
For more on this issue go to: