Court cuts payout for injured skater
A 12-year-old boy who suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries after falling while being towed behind a moving car on a skateboard has had his compensation payment reduced after a court found he knew the activity was dangerous and needed to bear some responsibility for his actions.
In January 2007, Liam Schoupp was with two friends when they saw a friend in the passenger seat of a passing car at Woonona, near Wollongong.
The boys convinced their friend’s father, Alphonse Verryt, to allow them to “skitch” a ride up the hill — which involved being towed behind the car at low speed while riding on their skateboards.
Liam, who had received his skateboard as a gift only a month earlier, wasn’t wearing a helmet.
After a few hundred metres Liam began to wobble, let go of the car, fell backwards, struck his head on the road and suffered a fractured skull and bruising to his frontal lobe.
He was left with long-term injuries including learning difficulties, memory loss, fatigue, difficulty with organisation and planning, and developed an obsessive compulsive disorder.
The NSW District Court initially awarded him $2.2 million in damages for future economic loss and the costs of other assistance he would require, apportioning complete blame to Mr Verryt.
But in May this year the Court of Appeal reduced that payment to $1.68 million, finding that despite his young age, Liam was aware of the dangers involved in “skitching”, which he had performed previously.
It found that it was just and equitable that Liam bear a small proportion of the responsibility, given his lack of care for his own safety.
However, the court maintained that Mr Verryt had a far greater responsibility for the injuries, saying that had he acted in a reasonable and prudent manner, he would have refused to drive while the boys were holding on to the back of the vehicle.