The recent death of a water skier and a number of other accidents has prompted NSW Roads and Maritime Services to issue a warning for boaties.
Earlier this week (September 5), a skipper was convicted of negligent navigation causing death after a 34-year-old was killed on the back of his boat. He was sentenced to a 15 month good behaviour bond and a three month boating licence suspension.
The man was water skiing at the Colombo Creek Ski Club Reserve in south-western NSW in February 2013, when he died after hitting a tree. Crucially, there was no third person acting as an observer and the skipper didn’t see the incident unfolding.
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Maritime Director Angus Mitchell explained it was imperative to have an observer on board to avoid accidents occurring during water sports.
“Vessel operators must understand it is impossible for one person to keep a proper lookout in two different directions – the observer on board performs a critical function and may save a life,” he said.
There are a number of safety risks associated with towing someone on the back of your boat. RMS state the skipper must be aware of these risks and have a good working knowledge of the rules. The skipper is also the sole person responsible for safety on the craft.
“Major safety risks to small craft also are present when towing in high volume waterways and boaters must ensure they always keep to the right,” Mr Mitchell stated.
“It is also illegal to tow more than three people at a time, even with an observer on board, and those being towed must wear a lifejacket at all times.”
Skippers must also always keep a safe distance from shore and understand it is illegal to tow people between sunset and sunrise.
Public liability claims in NSW
If you suffer an injury out on the water when involved in a sport or on a boat, and you believe that the skipper or a third party was responsible, you may be eligible to make a public liability injury claim.
To support your claim, you must have evidence that the situation was dangerous and that the skipper failed to meet their duty of care responsibility. It is recommended that you contact a compensation lawyer who can advise you on how to make your claim and assist you through the process.