Scots College Order to Pay Almost $500,000 in Compensation Over Student Death

Nathan Chaina with his father.

Nathan Chaina with his father.

The family of Sydney teenager, Nathan Chaina, have been awarded $492,373 in damages following his death at a school camp, but it’s only a fraction of the $100 million in compensation they originally claimed.

The Scots College student fell into a flooded river at Kangaroo Valley on October 23, 1999. The 15-year-old was on school camp at the time and was hiking as a part of group of students, that also included his older brother Matthew.

The subsequent coronial inquest found that the school was responsible for the death as they’d failed to properly prepare the students for the tough hiking conditions and had ignored weather forecasts for the day.

The Chainas made moves towards compensation in 2002, claiming the death of their young son had left them suffering from nervous shock and legal fees had throw them into financial hardship.

Nathan Chaina’s father, George Chaina, also claimed that at the time of his son’s death he had been on a revolutionary new cleaning detergent that would have earned them millions of dollars, but that he’d subsequently lost interest in the business.

The sum awarded to the Chaina family did not include interest, which is in dispute and will be the subject of another hearing later this year. Reports indicate that the Chaina family appeared dejected by the courts decisions, who reportedly spent millions of dollars in legal representation since proceedings began.

You can read more about a recent court decision regarding recreational and adventure operators and their responsibilities regarding liability: ‘Obvious Risk’ saves Operators from Compensation Claims

Recreational and Adventure Operators Protected from Liabilities

“Obvious Risk” saves Operators from Compensation Claims

compensation claims sydney

The possibility you’ll get hurt is all part of the charm, right?

Recreational and adventure operators can breathe a sigh of relief as a recent court decision helps protect them against liability charges.

For many, the thought of jumping out of a plane, firing paintballs throughout the Australian bushland or skiing down Perisher Blue’s frosty slopes is an exhilarating one; the physical exertion, the challenge of conquering your fears, the camaraderie built amongst mates and the rush of adrenalin that will leave you with stories for decades to come is enough to fork out the bucks for. But it has finally been recognised that we must face these fears with our eyes open to the fact that injury, even the possibility of death, is ever present.

In the case of Action Paintball Games v Barker, the defendant, Action Paintball Games, successfully appealed the awarding of damages of $280, 000 to a young plaintiff who had sustained injuries after tripping on a tree root whilst running. The child (under 10) had been spoken to by employees of Action Paintball, in the presence of her father, and warned that due to sticks and general debris that running was not advised.

Whilst the trial judge had found that tripping on a tree root was not an obvious risk in this case, as the child had never played laser tag before and the bush land she was playing in was not natural bushland, the Court of Appeals disagreed. They found that APG had issued a warning to the plaintiff and that there was no duty of care owed to her.

What this means for liability compensation?

Participants seeking  the thrills and spills of adventure and recreational activities must not expect to do so wrapped in cotton wool. ‘A balance must be struck, ensuring that operators provide a relatively safe experience, but not necessarily risk or injury free. Most people participate in organised sport on that understanding,’ writes Ross Donaldson, of Colin Biggers and Paisley.

The success in the Court of Appeals for Action Paintball is just one amongst a slew of recent cases demonstrating a growing trend towards pragmatism in the courts as opposed to restrictive measures.

This is good news for operators who feel the fear of their adventure activity centres being shut down, or sent into financial ruin, following legal actions. Whilst the definition of “Obvious Risk” will be open to some interpretation in the courts, operators can feel less burdened by the pressure of going through overly comprehensive risk assessments with patrons for fear of scathing litigation.

It’s important that both recreational and adventure operators and their patrons understand the risks involved with their activities. The recent crash, resulting in the devastating death of five skydivers at Caboolture, is a harsh reminder of the risks we take when we participate in such activities.

What is Compensation Law?

The law can be a tricky thing to unfurl. To really help you get your head around things we try to regularly explain some of the fundamentals. Today we’re taking a quick look at compensation law – what it is and how it works.

Compensation Law

Workers compensation is a complicated thing.

Image from Shutterstock

The WorkCover government website groups New South Wale’s workers compensation system into four key elements:

1.     ‘WorkCover Scheme – provides workers compensation insurance through contracted Scheme Agents to employers operating in New South Wales.

2.     SICorp (through the Treasury Managed Fund) – manages workers compensation, administration and financial liability for most public sector employers except those who are self-insurers.

3.     self insurers – organisations with enough capital to underwrite, pay and manage their own claims. There are strict criteria that employers must meet prior to WorkCover granting a self-insurers licence.

4.     specialised insurers – hold restricted licences to underwrite workers compensation insurance risk for a specific industry or class of business or employers.’

The current system operates through two previous acts, the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998. Both acts are designed to assist and protect employees who have become ill or injured as a result of work activities, as well as employers facing litigation.

Worker Compensation may pay for your hospital and medical costs, along with your regular wages, until the time when you can work again. Your employer must be paying a premium in order for you to be covered. You are not automatically covered by Workers Compensation and not all employees are considered ‘workers’ under the relevant state or territory compensation laws. Prior to commencing any job potential employees should ask if they will be covered in the instance of a work-related injury.

The Government site for WorkCover describes that there are two roles in which it plays in the workers compensation scheme

‘WorkCover acts on behalf of the Nominal Insurer, which is the legal entity responsible for the performance of the WorkCover Scheme. The Nominal Insurer contracts Scheme Agents to deliver case management and policy services within the WorkCover Scheme. WorkCover also regulates and manages the workers compensation system, including the licensing of self and specialised insurers and oversight of service providers.’

Under NSW law, employers must have a workers compensation policy in place if they are paying in excess of $7500 in wages per annum, are employing an apprentice or trainee, or are a part of a group for premium purposes. These are businesses that are related entities paying over $600,000 in wages per annum.

If you require more information about workers compensation you should contact your state or territory’s workers compensation authority.

Obvious Risk: A Man Claims Compensation After Falling Down a Stairwell At a Sydney Ice Rink

Regardless of whether a person is clumsy or has a skewed view of their own skills there are times in life when accidents and injuries happen that could be, in a court of law, deemed a result of obvious risk. Take, for instance, the case of Moor v Liverpool Catholic Club, an ice skating rink in Sydney where Moor’s lawyer argued that he was entitled to compensation for his injuries.

Compensation

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The basic facts of the questioned incident are that Moor was wearing a pair of ice skating boots as he was about to begin skating. As Moor began to descend the stairs down to the ice rink he lost his footing and fell, fracturing his right ankle. The question that was then raised was is falling an obvious or inherent risk that comes with walking down stairs in ice skating boots.

When it came to working out whether walking down those stairs in ice skating boots was an obvious risk it was brought to the court’s attention that there was no warning or suggestion present from the actual club that doing such a thing would be dangerous. It was furthered argued that the fall wasn’t an obvious risk because CCTV footage showed that Moor wasn’t acting in a way that would’ve lead to a fall or injury, i.e. he was carefully walking down the stairs.

It might seem like an obvious risk to someone else that walking down a flight of stairs in a pair of shoes that aren’t made for walking could easily end badly, but the key to Moor receiving compensation was that the club hadn’t provided any warning or information to suggest that such a practice was dangerous. In the end, Moor received over $100,000 in compensation.

For information on achieving a successful compensation claim, see Being Honest to Get the Best Results: What You Need to Know About Workers Compensation.

Man Wants Compensation for Millions Lost Gambling Template

There are plenty of places to gamble in Sydney but surely the people who choose to enter them and gamble are entirely responsible for any and all the money they lose? Is it just rubbish to try and argue that a casino made you lose all your money and get compensation for it? Whatever you think, one man tried to do exactly that.

Compensation

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Harry Kakavas went to the High Court to argue that Crown Casino victimised him and made him lose 20 million dollars over a year. He claimed that the casino knew he had a gambling problem and that they offered him incentives to go there, including the use of a private jet.

Kakavas could be classed as a high-roller, a businessman on the Gold Coast who would often make a turnover of about one and a half billion dollars. The life blood of casinos are high-rollers and so plenty of incentives are used to encourage them to come back time after time. Not only was Kakavas given private jet rides to take him from the Gold Coast to Crown Casino in Melbourne, he was also given free luxury accommodation, gift boxes of cash and one and a half million dollars in credit. That’s certainly a lot to just get one man down to play at the tables.

Originally he tried to argue a negligence claim against the casino but when that looked like it would fail he changed his argument to one regarding poor treatment of a consumer by breaching consumer laws. However, from Crown’s side they didn’t do anything wrong. They may have allegedly been aware of Kakavas gambling problem and history of law proceedings against other casinos but he did present to the casino each time as a man who could afford to gamble and, more importantly, afford to lose large amounts of money. He would often come to the casino and place initial deposits of up to a million dollars.

As a result of this appearance of capability, the High Court decided that there was not enough premeditated or predatory behaviour to suggest that Crown Casino had actually gone out of its way to get such a large sum of money off Kakavas. To be realistic, he was the one accepting the incentives and deciding to continue to gamble.

It’s not just casinos that get drawn into gambling-related compensation cases, have a read of A Gamble on Love: The Not So Happily Married Couple Could Find Themselves in Family Court if They Win Big on Lotto to find out more.

The Law of Healing: Retrospective Compensation for Bali’s Terror Victims | BPC Law Blog

If you happen to walk down any Sydney street, you might be able to spot the person injured at work, or the one whose operation was botched, but what about the victims of terror attacks? Just because you can’t see the injury, doesn’t make it any less real. It’s a cause that’s been championed for some time, by compensation groups, communities and even politicians, and as of just over a fortnight ago, there’s now retrospective compensation for victims of terrorist attacks.

Compensation(image: Shutterstock)

The government has announced compensation for all Australian victims of terrorist attacks, which will include all terrorist attacks going as far back as September 11.

Under the scheme, which started on October 21 this year, victims of terrorist attacks will be able to claim up to $75,000 in compensation.

You could argue that this scheme has come incredibly late, but for many victims it will be a welcome relief. Though the scheme can’t change what the trauma and hardship these victims have suffered,  it can at least go some way to support the lives of those who’ve been affected, for instance children who’ve been left without parents or those who’ve been severely disabled as a result of terror attacks.

Current estimates suggest that the compensation scheme will help around 300 individuals, as well as their families. In total, this’ll cost about $30 million, a drop in the ocean when you consider what these people have gone through and will continue to go through. Also, Mr Abbott has ensured victims and compensation groups that the latest scheme will not prevent these victims from receiving any pre-existing benefits that they’re entitled to.

Sydney Compensation Law: Calls for No Fault Compensation on Vaccination | BPC Law Blog

It’s hard to ignore the growing debate surrounding vaccinations of children and adults and whether those who choose not to vaccinate their child should be somehow punished or made to compensate the people whose lives they put at risk. Areas like Sydney’s Mosman are often the source of much finger-pointing when it comes to this vaccination debate. However, you may not have heard the other debate surrounding vaccination that has had many compensation lawyers up in arms. What happens if a person suffers adverse effects as a direct result of a vaccination?

Compensation Lawyers(image: Shutterstock)

There have been calls in recent years for a no-fault compensation scheme when it comes to vaccinations. This no-fault compensation scheme would cover those people who suffer negative side-effects of a vaccination. By having such a compensation scheme, no one is held to blame for what is 99% of the time a good thing i.e. getting vaccinated to protect the community as a whole.

And this no-fault compensation scheme isn’t just a random idea plucked from the ether. Other countries,including Germany,  have been privy to the no-fault compensation scheme for some time. The premise of the scheme operates under the idea that those who are vaccinated opt to do so for the better good. Such individuals are therefore a benefit to the community and any foul, yet rare, affects should be compensated out of gratitude.

Unfortunately, when any change is suggested, particularly one where a person may be viewed as getting ‘free’ money, there’s always an opposing argument that wants to know where this money will come from. If we follow the example of the 19 other countries with no-fault compensation schemes, it’s obvious that there’ll be little to no impact upon the livelihood of others. In these foreign countries the compensation scheme is funded by simple things like vaccine taxes, special funding as a part of general taxes, industry contributions or from broader compensation schemes.

There really is no reason for Australia to not have a no-fault compensation scheme for when a person reacts negatively to a vaccine. They’ve done the right thing by getting vaccinated and they should be supported accordingly.