A Sydney-based man has been awarded $280,000 after proceeding with an injury compensation case against Sydney Ferries.
The plaintiff worked at the firm as a crewman, but he suffered a permanent ankle injury in April 2007 when he caught his toe on the top of a storm step.
He had been entering the crew area of the Narrabeen vessel to change his clothes when the accident occurred. The courts heard the man believed he was on a different ship, the Queenscliff, which had a higher storm step.
NSW Supreme Court was told surgery had been unable to fix the ankle injury, with subsequent nerve damage caused due to the man using crutches and a walking stick after the accident. This required further operations.
Man wins compensation claim
Despite the worker believing he was on a different ship, the courts decided in his favour, claiming that the storm step was a trip hazard that should have been more clearly marked.
Reference was made to the plaintiff’s heavy drinking habits, as well as a previous case in which the man had sued Narrabeen Sands Hotel after allegedly being assaulted by a bouncer.
On that occasion, the man said he had drunk six or seven schooners of beer and was involved in the incident after a friend threw a glow stick at the doorman.
However, according to court documents, the plaintiff had not consumed any alcohol with regards to the Sydney Ferries accident. The man also argued that he enjoyed his job and would not have risked losing it by drinking during working hours.
Sydney Ferries negligent
Justice Adams expressed frustration at experts engaged by Sydney Ferries to measure the storm steps, who came back with different figures despite the task being one “any child” was capable of completing.
The judge also ignored the man’s confusion over what ship he was on, claiming the accident could still have happened either way.
“In my view, the defendant is liable in its capacity as employer of the plaintiff although, as it happened, the accident occurred on its vessel,” Justice Adams explained.
“Accordingly, the plaintiff’s damages fall to be determined under the Workers Compensation Act.”
A spokesperson for Sydney Ferries told the Daily Telegraph that changes have been made since the incident occurred. This included painting the storm steps in stripes to make them clearer.