- Date: July 23, 2006
- Victim’s age: 17
- Victim’s Sex: Female
- Occupation: N/A
- Place: Sylvan Lake, Alberta
- Circumstances: rudder was not responding
- Injuries sustained: fractured heel, ankle and lower leg
- Settlement Amount: $228,618
The Boating Accident
On July 23rd, 2006 a 17-year-old girl was seriously injured in a boating accident. She and 5 other people were enjoying a day on Sylvan Lake in Alberta. Her friend’s 22-year-old boyfriend had reserved a boat from Three boys a boat rental company. They had arrived late for their reservation and their check-in took about 10 mins. An employee showed them how to start the boat, trim the motor, and put the boat into gear which only took a few minutes. Both the boyfriend and another friend were licensed to operate the boat. They were out on the water in no time and they started tubing.
At first, the girl and her friend were on the tube while the boyfriend was driving. The second time they went on the tube they asked the other guy to drive since he was less aggressive and did fewer sharp turns. The guy driving the boat at the time of the accident had consumed 2 beers. During the ride as the driver slowed down to turn around and as he was doing so the rudder was not responding. He applied more throttle and the boat turned 180 degrees and headed straight for the girls on the tube.
At first, the girls thought that he was joking and trying to scare them off but they quickly realized the boat was not stopping and they jumped off the tube. The girls jumped in opposite directions and one of the girls jumped in the direction that the driver had swerved to miss the tube. The propeller of the boat hit her right foot and she screamed. They called 9-1-1 immediately and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The victim’s injuries
The girl’s foot was nearly severed in two. The hit had fractured her heel, ankle and lower leg. She also had nerve damage, laceration of tendons, and other muscle and soft tissue damage. While at the hospital she underwent surgery to perform an ankle fusion. She was placed in a cast and could not put any weight on her foot for another 3 months. She can no longer walk for long periods of time and can’t run or play sports. Her injuries also involved pain in her neck, shoulder, and lower back.
The man driving the boat at the time of the accident had a boating license but little experience driving a powerboat or pulling a tube. Furthermore, he had been drinking. The judge found him 50% liable for the girl’s injuries. The judge also found the boat rental company liable for the girl’s injury. They had given no instruction on how to use the kill switch which would have stopped the boat’s propeller. They also failed to give instructions on how to safely tow a tube, including avoiding sharp turns. Furthermore, the employee had told them that it was alright to have two people in the tube at once, even though it was a single-person tube. For the above-mentioned reasons, the judge found the Three Boys watercraft rental company 50% liable for the girl’s injuries.
The judge released the verdict on July 15, 2008. The girl was awarded $120,000 in general damages and $50,000 for loss of future earning capacity. She also received $40,000 for the cost of future care and housekeeping and $18,618 for special damages. The $228,618 was to be paid to the girl jointly by the boat driver and the boat rental company.