The Queensland government has been unable to reduce the damages payable to an Irish tourist who broke his neck after falling head first into a lake.
The Queensland government has lost its bid to reduce the compensation it has to pay to an Irish tourist who broke his neck on Fraser Island.
Evan Joseph Kelly became a partial tetraplegic, losing function below his neck, after running down a sand dune and falling head first into Lake Wabby in September 2007.
Kelly successfully sued the state government, which manages the area on Fraser Island in Queensland’s southeast, for breaching its duty of care.
The trial judge found Kelly, who was 22 at the time, did not intentionally dive into the lake and signage warning of the risks associated with running down the sand dunes was inadequate.
There had also been 18 incidents at the lake, including many involving spinal injuries, in the 17 years prior to Kelly’s accident, the court heard.
But the judge did find Kelly had contributed to his injury because he failed to closely read and obey warning signs and reduced the damages he could recover to 85 per cent.
The Queensland government then appealed the decision, arguing the compensation payable to Kelly should be further reduced to 65 per cent as there were danger signs and obvious risks in running down the sand dune.
In oral submissions, the state argued Kelly should be held equally responsible for the mishap.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision, meaning the government must pay 85 per cent of damages payable to Kelly, which are yet to be determined.
The state was also ordered to pay court costs.