THE LEGAL BATTLE THAT FOLLOWED THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC
Did the sinking of the Titanic, sink the shipping company that operated the vessel? This is a question that books, movies, and popular culture has not addressed.
Rewind 104 years ago and you’d surely be hearing the headlines about the famed Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. While most know the story of the Titanic, little is talked about the legal aftermath of one of history’s most famed disasters. We’ve come to accept that our modern day society is quite litigious. But what about in 1912?
Could you imagine if a major cruise line sunk today, killing thousands of people? The lawsuits that would follow would surely range in the hundreds of millions. Just last year, a Seattle jury awarded a Springfield, Illinois, man $21.5 million in lawsuit settlement after the man suffered a mild traumatic brain injury when he was hit by an automatic sliding door on board a Holland America Line cruise.
While the amount of consumer protection at the turn of the century left a lot to be desired, it didn’t stop people from suing after the sinking of the Titanic.
While reports are conflicting, it is generally accepted that the shipping company that managed the Titanic only had to endure 13-16 million dollars in claims.
The accident contributed to thousands of people perishing; the loss of life and property was astonishing. While adjusting for inflation puts the numbers in the 135 million dollar range, many of the cases were settled out of court for much less than the original claim. Even for 1912 standards, the legal process was drawn out. The first legal hurdle both sides had to tackle was which countries laws applied. Britain’s laws allowed for up to 2 million dollars to be paid out, while American law was much more generous to the shipping company, capping damages at $96,000.
In the aftermath of the Titanic, victims had to fight to receive compensation from the White Star Line (the shipping company). While the United States had legal disputes to tackle in regards to the case, the main trial took place in Britain. The courts ultimately ruled in favor of damage caps that favored the shipping company, the plaintiffs settled out of court. In modern times, victims and their respective families would have a much easier time in court. Trying a case is never easy, but with today’s technology, coupled with advancements in consumer protection, the likelihood of a favorable outcome is higher.
While technology has come leaps and bounds since the Titanic first set sail, that doesn’t mean cruise ships are entirely safe. In 2014, 31 people died on a cruise ship. While some of these deaths were accidental or due to natural causes, the cruise ship industry did not escape liability. Each year, the mainstream media catches wind of someone falling overboard. There is technology available to the cruise companies that detects overboard passengers. However, some ships are not equipped with it. At The Law Offices of Jerrod Paul, we are interested in protecting your rights as you set sail. The cruise lines have a responsibility to ensure a safe environment for their passengers to enjoy the sail. Bottom line is, should you have suffered an injury on a cruise ship or vessel, make sure you call The Law Offices of Jerrod Paul, you may have a case.