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 Page 1 of 4. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 79
Werribee Gorge Accident
2:36:21 PM
I have it from reliable sources that Parks Victoria are being sued by a climber from an accident that happened in 1998. Apparently a climber took a fall at Werribee gorge some time in 1998 and was hurt really badly. The climber's family are suing the Park in relation to the accident, and are saying that he fell off the path, and then landed some 15 to 20 metres below. I really don't know how anyone could fall off that path, and it is a shame that a climber is now suing the park that actually gave him the opportunity to go climbing in the first place. This has the potential to affect access for all of us. Does anyone know what actually happened?
3:39:15 PM
On 9/05/2006 IceScrew wrote:
>is a shame that a climber is now suing the park that actually gave him
>the opportunity to go climbing in the first place.

It is a shame if it is actually him that is bringing this claim. However, I would guess that if he was that badly mangled, whilst the claim may be in his name it will be driven by family members looking for someone to blame and/or obtain money from. Unfortunately not everyone sees climbing the way we do.
3:41:27 PM
Doesn't health insurance cover people for this kind of thing??
Bob Saki
3:49:25 PM
On 9/05/2006 climbingjac wrote:
>Doesn't health insurance cover people for this kind of thing??
if you have it................................
otherwise cost can become exorbitant and the family/victim may have no way of raising such capital other than legal avenues not say it's right but I can empathise with the victim if this is the case.

A lesson to all climbers to ensure they have private health insurance so this doesn't become the norm. For as low as $40 a month for basic cover it's a no brainer, even if you never claim. I would be surpirsed if climbers couldn't cover that cost (about the price of a qucikdraw or two) a month

4:00:21 PM
If he fell off the path are they claiming that the path was unsafe, if the climber chose to climb over a guard rail or ignore safety signage etc then why would a court grant damages!

If the path/fencing was unsafe it's immaterial that he was a climber!

6:07:09 PM
Basic health cover doesn't actually give you much. If you go to a public hospital as a private patient the only things you get are, a newspaper every morning and a $5 phone card (you don't even get a single room). If you're not happy with your doctor you can choose another one - if you can actually find one willing to look after you. If you go to a private hospital you get better food - but I don't think the bargaining agreements regulate the nurse to patient ratio and one nurse can have as many as 12 patients! Be really careful when you choose your health cover, as some insurers don't provide rehabilitation, and you don't automatically get access to all private hospitals - if a private hospital knows you're likely to need rehab they might refuse to take you if your health cover doesn't cover it (because the hospital will have to pay for it). There are many things your insurance won't cover - e.g. if you have surgery you'll probably have to pay for your anaesthetist separately, you get charged for all your medications, dressings etc. Health insurance is a waste of money - get extras cover for things like dental/physio, make sure you have ambulance cover - and vote labor in the next election :P

As for people suing national parks when they have accidents - I think it’s a bit silly. Obviously you go climbing or bushwalking to get away, and you’re not gonna have concrete foot paths etc which adhere to whatever regulations. Maybe they should sue mother nature… for not giving them enough common sense to learn how to walk properly and be more careful.
6:37:37 PM
Before anyone gets too carried away with this, there's much more information to be had. For example, maybe he did have insurance of some type, and his insurance company thinks it can recover some of its expenses from the park. Insurance companies usually have a right to sue in the name of the insured to recover where someone else is responsible for the loss the insured suffered. So the climber in this case might not have anything to do with it.

Also, what you're all really complaining about here must surely be the standard of care that is required of a park. For example, if the park blue-tac-ed some bolt plates onto a choss pile and put up a sign that said 'easy climb this way', surely no-one would complain if someone who hurt themselves as a result sued. Likewise if the park made the handrails out of cardboard or paper-mache. In those situations it would be clear that the park was liable for the loss of the injured person. So the question is merely what damage is the park liable for? Answering that involves striking a balance between the responsibility of land owner/managers for providing appropriate facilities, and the responsibility of visitors to look out for themselves.
You really can't know which way this balances out in this case unless you know all the facts and I'm guessing no one here does.

7:06:31 PM
On 9/05/2006 ronny wrote:
>Before anyone gets too carried away with this,


>You really can't know which way this balances out in this case unless
>you know all the facts and I'm guessing no one here does.

Good point. So does anyone know what happened?

8:27:34 PM
i personally don't know when the guard rails were installed but could they have been put in place as a result of this climber falling? can anyone confirm/deny this? a fall could very easily happen if those rails weren't there, just need to lose your footing.

it is a shame though, you'd think some people might be able to accept that they were at fault or just had a "blonde moment" (as people tend to say) and something happened as a result.

Chalk Free
8:58:36 PM
Maybe I'm the cold bastard that people say I am, but this whole sueing thing gives me the sh1ts. Especially people who take part in risky activities, ie life, and then sue when they hurt themselves.

I had a ground fall at frog buttress in 1999, broke both ankles and crushed a vertebrae. I have private health insurance which covered the $25k bill except for $480. If I didn't have private health insurance then the public system would have looked after me.

I have sought no compensation and have no intention of doing so. I am not alone here, Heather Swan who wrote Defying Gravity Defying Fear also shares this view.

Unfortunately with all the best intentions things happen and injuries occur. It's a tragedy that yet another U.S. attitude has invaded our culture.

10:28:57 PM
I think there's been a similar discussion before. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the community about the difference between negligence and accidents. Negligence has little to do with accidents. No damages can be awarded unless it is shown that

1. there was a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
2. the duty was breached
3. there is damage
4. causation - the breached caused the damage
5. the damage (of the kind being claimed for) was reasonably foreeable

There are tests within those 5 elements.

There is a big difference between falling and spraining an ankle because you were not watching where you were going and falling because of the negligence of a land owner, employer or service provider. In many cases the negligence is shown to be so gross and the damage so unecessary had someone been doing the right thing that the defendant (or their insurance) must pay. It's not about accidents and greedy litigants. If it is the injured man or his family suing it may be because they literally can't afford not only the medical bills but the around-the-clock care that is often required for injuries like brain or spinal injuries. Fulltime nurses cost a lot of money and medical insurance doesn't cover much of that. The issue is that in such cases the nursing is required for the remainder of the persons life. The injured is also entitled to damages for loss of income. eg. if they were a bright university student with a promising career ahead they would be awarded money for loss of income based on what they would have earned. However the amount would only be partial I'm sure. Then there's costs such as modifications to the injured person's residence, vehicle.....whatever else. What about emotional pain and suffering, the inability to have children, a great potential life wasted because some company or authority didn't do the bleeding obvious? If the injured person is seen to have had some influence in causing the accident the damages are reduced for contributory negligence. Most cases take a long time in court and are very fair.

I don't think there would be many people who would not seek compensation in such a case because the outcome of not doing so would be impossible in many cases. Families wouldn't be in a position to provide the care required. The public seem to be under the impression that these cases involve minor injuries. They also seem to be under the impression that the defendants are innocent victims. This is not so and I don't know what it takes to convince people of the truth. Get the cases and read the facts and judgments rather than the newspaper headlines like 'boy awarded $1m for cut pinkie'.

If you want someone to blame for ruining climbing opportunities because of litigation the blame might more appropriately be placed on those who negligently cause injuries. Just today I was in a dance school that is a negligence claim waiting to happen...lack of fire safety, cracked floor tiles in bathroom, nails sticking out of bench chairs. You can't take money from the public or claim to provide a service raking in money without accounting for your duty of care towards your patrons. In a notoriuos US case of a factory fire where almost all employees were killed the fire escape doors were locked and they couldn't get out. They had been locked to prevent the employees from taking ciggy breaks in the stair well.

In the case described here it seems that it is irrelevant that he was a climber as pointed out already and the walking track appears to have been a designated walking track. If the authority in question wants to call something a walking track they have to provide the safety precautions especially in areas where it may be narrow or a serious fall could happen. Walking on walking tracks shouldn't be a risky activity.

Also true that we dont' know the facts of this case. I'm just pointing out what I've read about in the cases I've read and it's very different to what you hear in the media.
8:34:54 AM
On 9/05/2006 Chalk Free wrote:
>Maybe I'm the cold bastard that people say I am, but this whole sueing
>thing gives me the sh1ts. Especially people who take part in risky activities,
>ie life, and then sue when they hurt themselves.


Parks is a government body, so I suppose if we ever find ourselves wondering why taxes are so high, people sueing Parks could well be one of the reasons...

Chalk Free
8:50:14 AM
On 9/05/2006 kerroxapithecus wrote:
>I think there's been a similar discussion before. There seems to be a lot
>of confusion in the community about the difference between negligence and

Created by legal rulings.

>Negligence has little to do with accidents.

Fair enough comment if only it was that black and white. A legal team will argue that an accident was negligence and create doubt so that they will win the case and get a massive payout. Hence the reason for ridiculously high insurance premiums. Take the Winnebago case, where an absurd claim was granted.

I could go on, my soap box on this matter is a big one.

9:08:31 AM
On 10/05/2006 Chalk Free wrote:
>Take the Winnebago case, where an absurd claim
>was granted.

Most of it is plain urban myth - including the Winnebago story.
9:19:26 AM
On 10/05/2006 Chalk Free wrote:
> Take the Winnebago case, where an absurd claim
>was granted.

Best to confirm facts prior to claiming certain events as fact to support your argument...

Pity, as some were highly entertaining!

The case from which the Stella Awards were created - Mc Donalds coffee.

The 2005 Stella Awards.

>I could go on, my soap box on this matter is a big one.

Please do, you won't be the only one sick of Australia becoming such a litigatious society...

Edit: Neil beats me to it...
10:16:46 AM
On 10/05/2006 Chalk Free wrote:
>A legal team
>will argue that an accident was negligence and create doubt so that they
>will win the case and get a massive payout.

This is a ridiculously generalised statement.
1. The argument put by the plaintiff's legal team does not determine the outcome of the matter. The defendant's legal team will presumably argue that negligence was an accident, and the Judge (or jury in the US) sorts out where the truth lies. Even if you were right in one particular case, the same could presumably be said of the defence in another case, and the whole thing would even out and we'd have a generally fair system. The reality is its an adversarial system, so the lawyer is simply doing their job.

2. Its not quite as simple as 'creating doubt' makes it sound. You don't just go before a judge, say 'negligence, negligence, negligence', and then he/she says 'well I have some doubt, so you can have the cash'. In a civil matter (as opposed to a criminal one) the standard of proof is the 'balance of probabilities'. This means that if its more likely than not that its negligence, that's what will be found, but if its more likely than not that its an accident, then that's what will be found. Of course there will be errors, but given the even nature of the standard of proof, one would expect them to even out over time.

3. You don't just get a massive payout because you won the first step of the argument. You have to show loss (that is able to be quantified) and you are compensated for that loss. As kerro... said, there's 5 elements to making out the cause of action, damage is the last one. If you show damage (or 'loss'), you get 'damages' equal to your loss. Damages are assessed by a judge.

This is in contrast to the position in the US where the jury assesses damages, and can grant punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff to punish the defendant (as the name suggests). This accounts for some of the massive payouts in the US. However even there many of the payouts are not as much as they are reported in the press. Most states have statutory maximums for punitive damages, however juries will sometimes award outrageous damages and this is what's reported, this will be reduced to come in line with the statutory maximum.

An issue to consider also is contingency fees. This an area where I agree that lawyers have something to answer for. But you must bear in mind that merely claiming that a supposed increase in our litigous nature is a case of us becoming more 'americanized' ('z' used intentionally) ignores the differences between the systems. Juries and punitive damages are one difference, but another major difference is that in the US contingency fees are common. This works so that the lawyers only get paid if they win, and they get paid a percentage. The problem is that this causes the lawyers to become less independent, and to give them a stake in the outcome of the litigation. In Australia contingency fees are allowed, but (at least in SA, but I think in other states also) they can not be a percentage. If the case is won the fee must be a set rate as it would have been if the contingency system had not been used.

Just getting on your soapbox about the increasingly litigous nature of Australian society doesn't do much to address how the balance is to be struck. What about those who are justifiably aggrieved as a result of another's behaviour? You must make these complaints specific (and suggest appropriate changes). (By which I mean - please get back on that soapbox. A good law debate to keep me interested is just what I need on chockstone today).


Chalk Free
10:27:39 AM
Facts? Bugger I thought I'd get away with that one.

Seems others have more faith in the legal system than I.

I'll pose this question.

If not for fear of litigation, why do we have so many captain obvious warnings on things?
Bob Saki
10:30:21 AM
On 10/05/2006 Ronny wrote:
> The reality is its an adversarial system, so the lawyer is simply doing
>their job.

Well my learned friend this may just be the problem. I wont delve to far into this, but countries without this adversarial system seem to arrive closer to just findings (IMO)
I may be generalising and I'm not comparing this to countries who observe Sharia Law or anything that may be view as extreme in terms of societal management.

Eduardo Slabofvic
11:17:00 AM
On 10/05/2006 Chalk Free wrote:
>If not for fear of litigation, why do we have so many captain obvious
>warnings on things?

It's all part of a big conspiracy to create a really dumb society, where all things must be able to be operated by the most incompetent idiot 100% of the time without fail, thus ensuring those among us who have abilities are denied the opportunity to develop them. This combines with the well documented demographic trend of stupid people having more children, with the ultimate goal of creating a super-race of morons who will take over the world.

Another theory is that this has already happened.

12:11:35 PM
The solution to the problem seems to reside in both an increased attitude of self-reliance - and acceptance of misfortune - among the public AND a health care system where everyone gets the best possible treatment regardless of ability to pay. The more the health care system gets privatised, the more we get pushed into a US style situation where every accident leads to litigation and the lawyers are the only real winners.

This seems paradoxical at first glance, because most of the champions of self-reliance are also committed to dismantling Medicare and running down the public hospitals.

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There are 79 messages in this topic.


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