People take pictures of the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, on Saturday. Image courtesy Pier Paolo Cito, AP
Costa Cruises today announced it would give survivors of last month's Costa Concordia accident more time to think about a settlement offer the company proposed several weeks ago.
The Italy-based line, which is owned by industry giant Carnival Corp., said it had extended the deadline for passengers to accept 11,000 euro in compensation until March 31.
Passengers originally had until today to accept the offer, which is worth about $14,463 at current exchange rates.
"The decision was taken to offer passengers more time to evaluate the proposal and to exercise their claims with less urgency," the company said in a statement.
Passengers who accept the settlement offer will be giving up their right to sue the company. Already, 39 passengers have filed suit against Costa and Carnival Corp. in Miami, where Carnival is based, according to the Associated Press. The passengers are collectively seeking $528 million in damages, the news service says. That works out to about $13.5 million per person.
The 11,000 euro payment Costa is offering passengers as a settlement is meant to compensation them for lost baggage and personal effects as well as the psychological trauma suffered during the event. It is in addition to reimbursing passengers for the full amount they paid for the cruise, their travel expenses and any medical expenses sustained after the accident, the line has said.
The compensation offer does not apply to passengers who were injured or killed as the Costa Concordia partially sank. They'll be covered under a separate settlement proposal based on their individual circumstances, Costa says. At least 17 passengers and crew members died in the accident; 15 remain missing and are presumed dead.
Costa says today's extension of the settlement deadline will not impact the claim process.
By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY