Jet ski accident. Injured rider gets $350,000:
In February 2016 two jet-skiers riding on the Goulburne river in Victoria collided. The Claimant was riding at a slow speed when he looked over his shoulder and saw the Defendant coming up behind him at high speed. They collided. The Claimant suffered a broken arm and ribs. The Court found the Defendant liable on the basis of his speed: it was foreseeable that by riding his jet ski at high speed that he was putting other jet skiers at risk. Other than his fractures the Claimant went on to battle with chest and back pain. He could not get back to work. He claimed that but for the accident he intended to start a panel-beating business and to simultaneously work in a restaurant. On that argument he said that his loss of earnings were nearly a million dollars. The Court was not happy with that argument. Ultimately that part of his claim was withdrawn. Nevertheless the Court awarded $350,000, most of which was for pain-and-suffering.
One of the lessons from this case is that any claim for lost earnings has to be well established on documents: the Court will not be happy with an argument based on ‘intentions’ or ‘what you planned to do’ without very convincing evidence. You need to show more than an ‘intention’. You need things like such as a business plan, registration of an ABN, opening of accounts, website addresses etc. This is a very complex area. We are happy to chat about this with you.
West v Rosenlis  VSC 41, 8 February 2021