In Western Australia, it is not compulsory for boat owners to have third party insurance.
If a boat owner does not insure their boat for third party damage, an injured victim may be forced to sue the skipper of the boat in order to recover damages.
Kate Campbell discovered this first-hand, when she suffered life-threatening injuries after Luke Woollard, son of then West Australian MP Janet Woollard, crashed his father’s boat into a navigation pylon near Canning Bridge in 2007.
The accident followed a day of heavy drinking to celebrate end-of-year university exams and left Ms Campbell with a torn oesophagus, crushed larynx, broken pelvis, vertebrae, ankle and jaw.
As the boat was uninsured, Ms Campbell’s parents were faced with medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Ms Campbell was fortunate that her family could afford to pay her medical bills. Another young woman, Chantelle Schweikert-Norman was not so lucky.
Ms Schweikert-Norman was injured in a boating accident off Port Hedland in 2010. She is still missing several teeth, and has been left with a metal plate in her mouth, nerve damage and scarring to her chin and lips.
Like Ms Campbell, Ms Schweikert-Norman’s injuries were not covered by insurance and she was left with costly medical bills.
In 2012, Ms Campbell successfully sued Mr Woollard in the District Court, where she was awarded $229,627 in compensation for her injuries. However, Mr Woollard refused to pay, claiming he did not have the money and would be forced to declare bankruptcy.
Western Australia has approximately five boating related deaths every year. Without third party insurance, victims have no avenue for compensation, other than through the court system.
If you have any queries or questions in relation to a boating accident, please contact Tim Heard or Angus Castley by telephone or email, (08) 9316 2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.