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Spanish Costa Concordia Victims awarded moral damages

05/25/2016
Professional articles
Markus Gómez Dabic (asociado senior del dpto. Litigación y Arbitraje Madrid)
Hellenic Shipping News

The Spanish Supreme Court has recently confirmed the indemnity award granted to each of the 22 Spanish passengers (grouped in a Victim Association) as damages for the claims filed against ship-owners Costa Crociere with regard to the capsizing of the MV Costa Concordia on January 13, 2012 off the island of Giglio (Italy).

The final ruling of the High Court complements preceding case law on the application of the Spanish Baremo Rating System for the Assessment of Damages in personal injury claims. This system is enforced for compensation claims originating from road traffic accidents and is widely applied by Spanish courts by way of analogy in other personal injury cases.

In deciding the case, the Supreme Court finds that the application of the Baremo Rating System as guiding criteria does not exclude the right to separate compensation for moral damages not resulting directly of any bodily harm. In other words, moral damages can be awarded in a personal injury claim, irrespective of whether or not the affected passenger has suffered physical injuries also.

Accordingly, while each passenger is dealt with differently with regard to indemnity based on bodily injury (only 17 passengers sustained bodily harm and were indemnified for this), the Supreme Court shares the appeal court"s findings that all passengers are to be treated equally with regard to compensation for moral damages, based on the common anxiety and stress experienced during the shipwreck.

The High Court, thus, confirms the award of 12,000 euros per passenger granted for the moral damages caused to all passengers by the anxiety and stress experienced on the night of the shipwreck. The former is in addition to the compensation granted under separate concepts of bodily injury as well as for loss of or damage to luggage according to the carrier's limit of liability set out in the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea.

It should be noted that this ruling applies the former Spanish Baremo Rating System (2012), but ultimately aligns with the new Baremo system (applicable in Spain as of 1 January 2016) which is based on the principle of fuLl compensation of the victim and seems to extend the scope of indemnity with regard to the types of damages which may be claimed.

This ruling further sheds light on Spanish case law regarding personal injury compensation claims which are reLevant for any future shipping casualties affecting Spanish victims.

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