A woman who suffered both physical and psychological injuries following a boat accident has won a public liability claim after a NSW court ruled the companies responsible as negligent.
The woman was taking part in an adventure tour at Sydney Harbour when the incident occurred. The person operating the boat performed a jump manoeuvre on a big wave that caused the vessel to land heavily, throwing the plaintiff violently against a metal handlebar.
District Court documents revealed the woman suffered from bruising to the jaw, severe bleeding, neck strain and shock. However, it was her psychological problems resulting from the accident that were particularly significant to her claim.
Since the incident, she has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety attacks, recurring nightmares and depressive episodes. Some of these symptoms, her doctors argued, have left her unable to return to work.
The plaintiff’s ongoing injuries
The defendants – the company that owned the boat and the firm organising tourism trips using the vessel – were found negligent, meaning they had breached their duties of care towards the plaintiff.
District Court Judge Leonard Levy therefore had to decide damages for the plaintiff, taking into account the extent of her injuries and the impact they continue to have on her life.
While her physical injuries have healed since the accident in 2010, the plaintiff has ongoing mental health issues that Judge Levy ruled were directly related to the incident.
Medical notes revealed that she lacks confidence, struggles to handle situational pressures and often gets dizzy spells. Her PTSD also means she has to rely on her husband for household chores and she often exhibits hypervigilance in relation to her daughter, most notably worrying what would happen to the girl if the plaintiff died.
Public liability compensation
Judge Levy awarded the plaintiff $435,630 in compensation to cover a range of costs that the woman has incurred due to her injuries.
The majority of the payout was for past and future loss of income, which amounted to $225,000. A further $26,000 was provided for lost superannuation.
A significant proportion of money was also awarded to cover past and future domestic care arrangements. More than $140,000 will now go towards giving the plaintiff assistance with household chores.
The judge ruled that $84,500 in damages for non-economic losses was justified, which is compensation for the pain and suffering that the accident caused.
Would you like to know more about public liability claims? Please contact experienced personal injury lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.