3 February 2023

$90,000 payout for man injured in Burrinjuck Dam boating accident when a boy

| Albert McKnight
When the Burrinjuck Dam is full, the Goodradigbee River creates your water views. Photo: Supplied

A boy was injured during a boating accident on Burrinjuck Dam in 2015. Photo: Supplied.

A man has been awarded more than $90,000 after he was injured in a boating accident when he was 12 years old, in a case that was described as being “like an onion; it has many layers”.

Jack Glover, who is now 20, successfully sued the sum from his aunt’s partner, Daniel Fuller, with the ACT Supreme Court announcing its decision on Tuesday (31 January).

He had gone ‘tubing’ at Burrinjuck Dam in NSW with other children, his aunt and Mr Fuller in January 2015.

Mr Glover was being towed along the water in an inflatable tube while Mr Fuller was driving the boat when he had an accident. He has an ongoing back injury which he blames on the accident.

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Acting Justice Verity McWilliam said the claim was about whether Mr Fuller, as owner and driver of the boat, had breached his duty of care. Also, it was about whether the accident caused the injury, and if so, what damages ought to be paid as compensation.

“That may sound straightforward. However, without wishing to appear flippant by adapting a line from Shrek, the animated ogre in the film of the same name – this case is like an onion; it has many layers,” she said.

For instance, Mr Glover had an underlying spinal condition which was undiagnosed before the accident.

Acting Justice William found the risk involved was that the tube might flip and the process of flipping might cause a person to suffer a physical injury.

She accepted the tube flipped when it hit the boat’s wake, then Mr Glover was briefly pulled while he was upside down in the water.

Mr Glover said when that happened, his back arched and he sensed a clicking sensation in his back as well as transient pain.

Acting Justice William found the boat was driving faster than it should have been and Mr Glover had not been given instructions on how to slow it down or what to do if the tube flipped.

Also, the boat had been driven in a zig-zag way with the intention of creating waves.

“I separately accept that the defendant did not take sufficient precautions to guard against the risk that the tube might pull or wrench the plaintiff’s body once he fell into the water,” she said.

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Acting Justice McWilliam accepted the incident aggravated Mr Glover’s underlying back condition and found the failure to take the reasonable precautions mentioned above had caused his injury.

She said when viewed from the perspective of a 12-year-old child, “the need to let go immediately upon the tube flipping would not have been readily apparent or obvious”.

Mr Glover now suffers from chronic back pain, requiring prescription painkillers, and recently had spinal steroid injections.

He was awarded about $93,000 in damages and interest.

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