News

Irishman who broke neck at Lake Wabby set for big payout

AN IRISH tourist who broke his neck and became a tetraplegic after running down a sand dune at Lake Wabby is set for a big compensation payment from the State Government.

Evan Joseph Kelly sued the government for breaching its duty of care and won his case in the Supreme Court this week.

Mr Kelly said he was trying to run into the water from the sand dune on Fraser Island in September 2007, when he lost his footing in the sand and fell head-first.

Mr Kelly suffered partial tetraplegia, or paralysis in the arms and lower body.

Despite the presence of two signs warning not to run on the dunes or dive into the water, Justice Duncan McMeekin decided the State Government had not done enough to avoid legal responsibility for the incident.

Justice McMeekin ruled the amount of serious injuries suffered at Lake Wabby meant the government should have done more to warn of the dangers specific to that spot.

"There were 18 incidents in the 17-year period prior to the plaintiff's injury," he said.

Justice McMeekin noted there was a risk assessment on Lake Wabby carried out in 2002, which called for more to be done to highlight the dangers of the tourist attraction.

"(The government) breached its duty by failing to ensure that the signs leading into the lake more definitively identified the dangers by reference to the numbers of catastrophic injuries suffered and by the provision of a message that emphasised that the risks were not merely in diving into shallow water but in the running down the dunes," he said.

Justice McMeekin decided Kelly contributed to his injury, but not enough for the government to get out of paying compensation.

He held Kelly was entitled to be paid 85% of the financial damages incurred as a result of his serious injury.

A spokeswoman from the Department of National Parks confirmed the amount of these damages was still being assessed.

Both parties have until May 7 to make any further submissions.

Wabby accidents

  • Nov 2007 - English backpacker suffers spinal injury
  • Jan 2010 - Woman rescued from drowning
  • Jan 2010 - Man rescued from drowning
  • Mar 2010 - Danish man suffers spinal injury
  • May 2010 - Korean man drowns
  • Nov 2012 - Canadian man suffers back injury

Topics:  court, lake wabby



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