Mrs Ellery claimed compensation for injuries she sustained while on board a catamaran at the Hamilton Island Marina on 3 May 2012. The case is known publicly as Ellery v Sunsail (Australia) Pty Ltd  QDC 285.
Mrs Ellery's storyMrs Ellery was on holiday in the Whitsunday Islands when her daughter, Ms Betts, organised a one day cruise around Hamilton Island on one of the catamarans operated by Sunsail.
Not long after boarding the catamaran, Mrs Ellery was introduced to the skipper, Mr Ash. As he extended his hand to shake hers, Mrs Ellery stepped back and fell down the stairway.
Mrs Ellery suffered serious neck and back injuries as a result of the fall and was in hospital for a few weeks in Mackay. From Mackay Base Hospital, Mrs Ellery was transferred to Caloundra Hospital and was discharged from there on 3 August 2012.
The fall had caused fractures of the upper two cervical vertebrae as well as C5 and C6 bodies. In July 2013, Mrs Ellery suffered the first of a series of strokes.
The decisionSunsail was found to be negligent by not altering the vessel in order to avoid relevant risk as they were employing the vessel for commercial use. What was required was a physical safety barrier, which would have reduced the risk of falling down the access stairway, at least until all passengers were on board and given a thorough safety briefing. Failure to do so amounted to a breach of duty and was a significant cause of Mrs Ellery’s injury.
The decision of His Honour Judge Devereaux was appealed to the Mackay District Court on 19 December 2014 and resulted in compensation for Mrs Ellery in the sum of $117,975.69.
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Written by Shine Lawyers on August 3, 2017. Last modified: September 26, 2018.