The cruise ship Costa Concordia is partially sunk off the coast of Italy. It is a tragedy. There are varying numbers for the fatalities listed by various media outlets. The number is unknown because there were “unregistered passengers” aboard. I don’t know what this means, but stowaways would be my guess.

There were perhaps 15 fatalities with 23 people still missing. Two of the missing people are Americans while none of the known fatalities are listed as coming from the US. There were 64 people injured, three of them seriously. There were 4,197 people aboard the ship when the dimwitted captain sailed off course.

Remarkably, 4,095 people were removed from the ship without injury. There were only 102 unlucky people aboard ship that night. Several media outlets are comparing this to the sinking of the Titanic. I guess they are doing this because they were both ships or something. The Titanic sunk in the middle of the ocean and there were 1,517 fatalities among the 2,223 people aboard. Even if all the missing persons become fatalities, that is less than 1% of the passengers of the Costa Concordia lost. That doesn’t seem even remotely akin to the 68% of passengers aboard the Titanic.

The Miami Herald published an opinion piece fretting about cruise passengers giving up their rights when boarding foreign cruise ships. All those wishing to file a lawsuit against the ship’s owners will have to do so via the Italian court system. All claims must be filed with the country of the ship’s registry. In Italy, they don’t treat accidents, even stupid ones, as a lottery event with anyone injured being the winners of a huge jackpot.

Apparently, this means “a Costa Concordia passenger who could expect a $2 million damages award, based on similar cases in the United States” won’t be able to just have someone give them lots of money. (quote from the Herald) They would have to put up 10% of the damages they were seeking and there is no contingency fee structure in Italy. They would have to pay the lawyer no matter what and it could take years and years to settle the dispute.

I’m not sure what the $2 million is supposed to be for. No Americans have been declared dead, as of this writing. I don’t know the nationality of the three severely injured passengers. I don’t know what is considered a severe injury, either.

I’m interested in that $2 million figure.

I can find figures for life insurance in the US. The number of households in America without any life insurance coverage dropped from 78% in 2004 to 70% in 2010. There may be less households covered now as people have dropped this “extravagance” in a tough economy. That 70% figure means there are 35 million American households with 11 million of them housing children under the age of 18 are without life insurance.

So if people themselves are going to say what their lives are worth, 35 million of them think that would be zero. They don’t insure themselves or their families against this loss. However, if some other person is going to have to cover the worth of their life, that worth has all of a sudden jumped to $2 million.

I’ve seen million dollar policies and some pay double indemnity for accidental death. I know they make higher policies, but there is some explaining you have to do to the insurance company before they will issue such a policy.

I don’t know when Americans thought that getting hurt meant you won some sort of odd lottery, but we seem to have that as a mantra. I’m hurt; you pay and you pay a lot.

If an American is found among the missing, and if that person had a life worth that $2 million figure as proven by an in force insurance policy, it would pay out enough money for the survivors to pursue further damages in the Italian court system.

I’m not sure why we have come to believe that our misfortune, even at the hands of the inept and stupid, is an opportunity for monetary gain.

I know I am supposed to feel outrage at the parent company for hiring such a jackass, as well. They need to be punished for having this cretin in charge. However, Captain Schettino had worked for 11 years for the company and never sunk a ship before. How is anyone supposed to know when a trusted and competent employee is going to turn into an asshole and compound problems and be a complete idiot under stress?

Costa Cruises is probably a lot madder at the dunce than we, out in the world, are.

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