Rise in recreational water injuries prompts calls for mandatory jet ski insurance

26 January 2014
Jet skiers are among the water thrill seekers most likely to end up in hospital, prompting Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to renew calls for mandatory insurance on jet skis.

Over the past five years, there were more than 1300 hospital admissions in Victoria due to serious injuries related to recreational boating activities.

The figures, from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, show the most common activities at the time of injury were waterskiing, wakeboarding and jet skiing.

Transport Safety Victoria data shows the number of recreational marine incidents has increased from 486 in the summer of 2011-2011, to 567 in 2011-12, a rise of 16 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of personal water craft - including jet skis - registered in Victoria has grown to almost 15,000, an increase of more than 40 per cent over the past four years.

Despite the increase in registrations and incidents, Maurice Blackburn principal Dimi Ioannou said many people injured by jet skis missed out on compensation if there was no insurance.

"People should be having fun in the water over summer, but we need to remember that jet skis are powerful and potentially dangerous water vehicles," she said.

"Every summer we see people suffer serious head, neck and leg injuries as a result of recreational boating related injuries such as those involving jet skis.

"But without adequate insurance cover, people injured by or on a jet ski could be left hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket if there is no insurance."

Ms Ioannou said if individual jet ski owners or operators are uninsured but held liable for another person's injury, they may even be forced to sell major assets to fund compensation.

"Nearly a third (30.4%) of people injured in recreational boating related activities are required to stay in hospital for between two and seven days, which can become very expensive."

She said there should be government reforms to make third party insurance mandatory for all jet ski owners.

"At the moment there's a huge gap in the system and the consequences can be tragic for those injured by a jet ski.

"The government needs to take action to make sure jet ski owners and operators have adequate insurance to protect those who are injured." 

Key facts on hospitalisations due to recreational boating related injuries

  • From July 2008 to June 2013, there were 1347 hospital admissions in Victoria due to serious injuries related to recreational boating
  • The most common activities at the time of injury were waterskiing/wakeboarding (35.6%) and jet skiing (19.2%).
  • About a third of those admitted to hospital were aged between 15 and 29 years
  • Men made up three quarters (75.7%) of the Victorian hospital admissions
  • Injuries were most commonly to the legs, arms, and the head/face/neck
  • Most common injuries were fractures, followed by dislocations, sprains and strains
  • At least one on five (22%) of injuries were caused by falls and one in 10 by hitting, striking or collision 

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