Court cuts pay­out for in­jured skater

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­

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.

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