Giambrone, the Italian law firm whose Maritime insurance lawyers have assisted the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster and successfully recovered several thousand euros in damages and compensation from the Italian cruise ship operator, has today announced that they will be launching a similar class action on behalf of the passengers on board the Italian-owned Norman Atlantic vessel against the Italian owner of the boat, Visemar Di Navigazione.

"The Norman Atlantic passengers have clearly been through a terrifying and most traumatic experience and one which may have long-lasting effects for them," he said. "With over 500 passengers on board this huge vessel, the safety of passengers should have been the first and only priority. The ferry should have not been allowed to travel due to the deficiencies found by the Greek authorities"

Under Italian law, the injured passengers on board of the Norman Atlantic are entitled to seek compensation for all personal injuries sustained on board and after disembarkation, material damages, compensation for ruined vacation, compensation for lost property and items, a refund for the transportation costs and compensation for any damages to their vehicles.

The Athens Convention, which applies to international carriage by sea, states that compensation claims for personal injury and death can usually be brought in the country most favourable to the victims and this may contradict the legal provisions of the purchase of the transport ticket which specify that Italian law should apply to any disputes with the ship owners. For personal injuries, Italian law may actually provide for a more accurate remedy that the Greece General Maritime Law and statutory law, governed by a federal statute called the Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").

Passengers are entitled to be compensated not only on the grounds of the shipowner's contractual liability but also in relation to failures or violations of international maritime safety rules which would increase the potential liability of the maritime company, and raise the level of compensation through the claim for "punitive damages".

Piero Mastrosimone, head of Giambrone's Maritime Accidents team, said they were continuing to receive enquiries from a growing number of passengers from Italy and abroad: the majority of passengers and crew were Italians and Greeks but it is reported that other passengers were from various other European countries including France, Germany and England.

The Italian car ferry Norman Atlantic was travelling from Patras, in Greece, to Ancona, in Italy with 422 passengers and 56 crew members on board when a fire broke out on its car deck, north-west of Corfu near Greece last Sunday. 

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