Yacht crewman receives nearly $338,000 after liability claim

Date: Jun 21, 2018

A racing yacht crewman who was seriously injured when his boat hit the Sow and Pigs Reef in Sydney Harbour has successfully sued the NSW Roads and Maritime Services for negligence.

The man was aboard the Kookaburra vessel during a match race at the harbour in 2011. Court documents show the boat was travelling at approximately 10 knots when it struck the reef and threw the plaintiff violently to the deck.

He landed face first and caused severe damage to his mouth, lips and teeth, leading to doctors wiring his jaw shut for the first few months of treatment. The plaintiff was forced to eat through a straw during this time and became extremely self-conscious about his broken teeth, including a missing tooth.

What lasting injuries has the plaintiff suffered?

The accident occurred nearly seven years ago, but the man continues to experience various physical and psychological problems. He has required extensive dental work to correct his damaged teeth and believes the incident has disfigured his face.

Medical practitioners diagnosed the plaintiff with depression and anxiety following the accident, and he became increasingly reclusive and non-communicative around friends and family. These symptoms have improved over time, but his sister claimed his temper has worsened and he is now more introverted.

The injuries have also affected his career, as he is reluctant to take well-paying charter jobs if he has to deal with groups of drunken men. He claimed he does not have the confidence to confront them if they become disruptive on a boat.

Why was the defendant negligent?

Roads and Maritime Services admitted liability for the accident, which occurred when the organisation placed a hazard navigation marker in the wrong spot. The Kookaburra skipper saw the marker and assumed he was sailing in clear water, when the boat was actually heading towards the reef.

District Court Judge David Russell said the incident had a lasting impact on the plaintiff, causing significant problems to his social life and employment. He assessed the man’s injuries, including the psychological damage, at 31 per cent of a most extreme case, resulting in a $159,500 award of compensation for non-economic losses. Past and future lost income, as well as out-of-pocket expenses, brought the total payout to $337,899.

Public liability claims such are designed to provide financial redress to those who have suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence. If you believe you may be entitled to compensation, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to talk to a personal injury specialist.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.