The Costa Concordia cruise accident will have a lasting effect on the victims, as they cope with the sheer trauma of surviving a terrifying and life-threatening event. The ship, which struck rocks and capsized off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13, still rests on the bottom as rescue crews search for survivors. The skyscraper-sized ship, which had more than 4,200 passengers and crew aboard, had been on a typical voyage through the Mediterranean at the time of the accident. More than 11 people have been found dead and more remain missing.
Rarely do passengers of cruise ships endure such trauma, according to Hector Lombana of Miami law firm of Gamba & Lombana, based in the same city as Costa-parent Carnival Cruise Lines. Cruise accidents are common and the litigation of injuries and crimes aboard cruise ships involving both passengers and crewmembers is a cottage industry in Miami, where many of the lines are based. However, according to Lombana, the Costa Concordia sinking will impact many more passengers than the typical cruise ship accident.
"We have represented victims of travel incidents, such as cruise accidents and airplane crashes, where the mental and psychological damages far outweigh any physical injuries," said Lombana. "The feeling of helplessness and the intense feeling of hopelessness can lead to major emotional trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have seen it in cruise cases, airline crashes and other large-scale tragedies."
Lombana points to the many heart-wrenching accounts of the Concordia grounding which will have a lasting impact on the victims.
"Hearing victims tell stories of lost children and helpless elderly passengers fighting for their lives leads me to believe that extreme emotional distress will be the largest byproduct of the sinking," said Lombana. "In addition, many survivors are further traumatized when they realize how close they came to death and struggle with understanding why they lived and others perished."
"The psychological damages are further intensified by the survivor's inability to help those trapped in the ship or in life threatening ocean conditions." Lombana added.
The cruise ship accident attorneys of Gamba & Lombana have experience in trying cases where cruise lines were negligent in providing a safe environment for passengers and have represented many victims of physical and emotional tragedies like the Costa Concordia sinking.