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The warm climate combined with the extensive coastline and waterways of Queensland including Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast’s Broadwater make boating and personal watercraft (PWC’s) such as jet ski’s very popular. However, accidents occur each year causing serious injury and death.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a boating, jet ski or other personal water craft (PWC) accident in Queensland due to the negligence of another person or organisation then you may be entitled to compensation.

Get expert boating and jet-ski compensation advice experts

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If I am involved in an accident on the water, do I need to notify anyone?

If you have been involved in a marine incident, the captain of the vessel must report the incident to a Shipping Inspector within 48 hours.

The easiest way to do that is to fill out a Marine Incident Report form and submit it to one of the following:

  • a Maritime Safety Queensland office;
  • a Queensland Water Police office; or
  • a Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol office.

If you fail to report a Marine Incident or fail to do so within 48 hours, you may be subject to severe penalties.

Have Murphy’s Law acted in previous boat/PWC claims?

Yes. Our lawyers have successfully acted for many people who have been injured in boating accidents, jet ski and personal watercraft accidents who received  compensation for their injuries.

Is there any insurance that a boat/PWC operator would be covered by?

Yes. For people who engage in recreational boating, there are generally two main types of marine insurance which they could have:

  • Comprehensive insurance – this kind of insurance policy tends to cover the owner’s boat/PWC for any damage that it sustains; and
  • Third Party Liability – this covers the owner or operator for any damage that they cause to someone else’s property or for any personal injuries that their vessel causes to a person. 

However, there are variations of these types of insurance policies. It is not uncommon to have just the one insurance policy that covers you for both.

When I sue the boat/PWC operator, what is the impact upon them personally and financially?

If the boat owner has public liability insurance then all dealings will be with that insurer.  There is really no financial impact on the owner.

If an injury occurred and the boat operator does not have insurance then they need to respond to the compensation claim themselves.  The person at fault will be personally liable to pay any compensation.

When a claim is lodged you will usually become aware of whether or not the boat or personal watercraft owner has any insurance.

How do I prove my case?

The key things you need to prove your personal injury claim from a boating accident or jet ski accident is:

  • evidence that the boat or jet ski operator did something wrong (that they were negligent);
  • evidence to establish the injuries sustained;  
  • evidence of your financial losses; and
  • a lawyer with good working knowledge of the injury claim process as well as boating rules and regulations.

The type of evidence which will help you prove your case includes:

  • Medical reports from your treating doctors.
  • Specialist reports to identify any long term problems or treatment needs.
  • Accounting or financial evidence to establish the losses you have suffered.
  • Witness statements from people who saw the accident.
  • Witness statements from people who can confirm the nature and impact of your injuries.
  • Engineering evidence;
  • Expert reports from boating instructors (who will help confirm whether someone has breached the rules and regulations that apply for a boat/PWC operator).

The key things you need to do to prove your personal injury claim from a boating accident or jet ski accident is to:

  • engage a lawyer who has knowledge and experience in this specialised area of law; and
  • gather the right evidence.

To give your claim for compensation the very best chance of success, your lawyer needs to have a good understanding of the law of negligence and the relevant boating rules and regulations. 

For a boating accident or jet ski accident that occurs in Queensland, there are a number of important pieces of legislation which your lawyers needs to have an excellent understanding, which includes the:

  • Maritime Safety Queensland Act 2002;
  • Personal Injury Proceedings Act 2002;
  • Civil Liability Act 2003; and
  • Civil Liability Regulation 2014.

Our boating and jetski injury lawyers have expert understanding of these legislation pieces.

Common boating and jetski injuries

In 2019, Queensland regulated ships were involved in 332 reported incidents. From those incidents 109 people were injured, of which:

  • 37 people were admitted to hospital; and
  • 18 people passed away.

When people get injured in a boating accident or jet ski accident, they tend to suffer significant injuries. In our experience some of the most common injuries people suffer in those instances include:

  • Fractured vertebrae of the spine.
  • Chronic musculoligamentous injuries to the neck and back.
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Propellor injuries resulting in severe lacerations, the loss of fingers or limbs.
  • Mechanical entanglement from faulty anchor winches causing hand and finger injuries.
  • Fractures to the arms or legs.
  • Fractured skull.
  • Brain injuries.
  • Cuts and lacerations.
  • Psychological trauma.

Common causes of boat and jet ski/PWC accidents

In our experience, the most common causes of boat, jet ski and personal watercraft injuries is operator error caused through distraction or lack of attention.  Other common causes are:

  • lack of familiarity with the vessel;
  • lack of familiarity with the waterways;
  • inexperience;
  • neglect;
  • allowing the vessel to fall into disrepair; and
  • not obeying speed limits.

The most common recorded maritime incidents in Queensland can be broadly categorised as follows:

  • Collisions between ships;
  • Grounding;
  • Collisions with objects; and
  • Other incidents (including capsizing, environmental factors).

The most common cause of marine accidents occurring over the years has been collisions between ships. In fact, during 2019 collisions between ships accounted for 77 of the 332 marine incidents.

Interestingly, those 332 incidents involved 412 Queensland regulated ships included:

  • 277 motorboats;
  • 79 sailboats;
  • 38 personal watercraft; and
  • 10 paddle boats;
  • 7 houseboats; and
  • 1 pontoon.

Boating and Jetski injury compensation time limits

Generally speaking, in Queensland, if you suffered a jet ski injury or boating injury, you have 3 years to lodge a claim with the court. If you do not you can lose all your rights to pursue a compensation claim.

However, there are exceptions to that general rule. For example:

  • If an important fact arises after the 3 year time period (eg learning what the cause of the accident was or of a new development in your medical condition) you might be able to apply to the court for an extension of time.  But you need to do that within 12 months of learning the new fact.
  • Children have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim.
  • People with certain types of disabilities (who can’t make their own decisions) have an ongoing extension to bring a claim.

Other important time limits apply such as the need to lodge a claim (through the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 claim process) with the at-fault person within 9 months of an accident occurring.

We also have information for boating injuries on public transport ferries.

Contact us now and speak with one of our experienced lawyers to find out which specific time limits apply to your claim and see if you are eligible for our no win no fee policy.  

What can I claim for?

The most common things which injured people can claim for in a personal injury claim includes:

  • General damages (pain and suffering) – this is an award of compensation for each individual injury that you suffer, whether they are physical or psychological in nature.
  • Past economic loss – this refers to compensation you receive because of any adverse impact that the accident has upon your ability to work and earn an income between the date of the accident until the date of settlement. For example, if you need to take time off work, miss out on a pay rise, use your personal leave benefits or cannot return to work at all following an accident, you can get compensated for that.
  • Future economic loss - this refers to compensation you receive for the impact that the accident has upon your ability to work and earn an income into the future. For example, if you need to change jobs or cannot return to work at all because of your injuries, you may be entitled to a significant award of damages for the loss of income that you will now suffer.
  • Past Medical treatment costs – If you are out of pocket with medical costs you can calculate those costs and claim them back.
  • Future Medical Treatment Costs – If you’re going to require ongoing medical treatment into the future, you can claim that too as part of your compensation.

Talk to one of our experienced injury lawyers today to learn more about what your compensation entitlements could be.

Posted by Kirk Watterston Principal (Non-Director)

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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