NEGLIGENT JET SKI DRIVER ORDERED TO PAY $350,000 IN DAMAGES FOLLOWING COLLISION – WEST V ROSENLIS [2021] VSC 41
The driver of a jet ski that collided with another jet ski on the Goulburn River has been found liable in negligence and ordered to pay $350,000 in damages. This Judgment included $300,000 in non-economic loss with the Supreme Court of Victoria finding the driver was travelling much faster than the 5 knot speed limit and took no action to steer, manage or control his jet ski so as to avoid the collision.

FACTS
Mr West and Mr Rosenlis spent a day jet skiing on Lake Nagambie. They were both experienced jet skiers. Mr West was on the lead ski, proceeding slowly in accordance with the 5 knot speed limit as they entered the Goulburn River. A person in a nearby boat called out to Mr West, who released the throttle allowing his jet ski to slowly drift to the left. Mr Rosenlis, who was some distance behind, was travelling much faster than 5 knots. He did not take action to steer clear and collided with the middle of Mr West’s jet ski, causing him injury.

Prior to the hearing, Mr Rosenlis pleaded guilty to and was sentenced on one charge of driving his jet ski in a manner dangerous causing injury, arising from the accident.
Mr Rosenlis did not attend court for the trial and no solicitor appeared for him.

DECISION
The Court found that Mr Rosenlis owed Mr West a duty to take reasonable care in the driving, management and control of his jet ski to avoid causing him injury. The Judge found there was a foreseeable risk of harm to Mr West if Mr Rosenlis failed to do so.

Having regard to all the circumstances, including the matters in s 48(2) of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic), a reasonable person in the position of Mr Rosenlis would have taken precautions against the risk of harm to Mr West, which include driving his jet ski at a slower speed, keeping a proper lookout, and steering and controlling his jet ski so as to avoid colliding with Mr West’s jet ski.

The Court awarded $350,000, consisting of $300,000 damages for non-economic loss and $50,000 for medical and like expenses.

 

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