…motorcycle accident – ramp misplacement – recreational activity – voluntary assumption of risk
On 28 November 2015, the plaintiff was injured while performing freestyle motocross (FMX) at a monster truck and FMX event in Korumburra, Victoria (the event).
The plaintiff’s injuries occurred as a result of ‘overshooting’ the down ramp while completing an FMX jump and landing directly on the ground, causing him to be thrown off his motorbike.
When the plaintiff commenced the jump that resulted in his injuries, he believed that the down ramp was positioned at a distance of 75 feet from the up ramp. The down ramp was, however, positioned at a shorter distance from the up ramp.
The plaintiff commenced proceedings against the defendant, the promotor and manager of the event, contending that the defendant failed to, inter alia, provide a safe event space and take reasonable care concerning the operation, arrangement and management of the event so as to ensure the safety of performers, including the plaintiff.
The defendant contended that he had delegated the task of ramp movement to the independent performers, and as such, he had discharged his duty of care, and that, in the alternative, the plaintiff had voluntarily assumed the risk of the down ramp being incorrectly positioned.
The claim was dismissed.
It was found that, during the day, the ramps were moved to facilitate the different performers. There were paint markings on the ground to signal the positions of the ramps, at both 55 feet apart and 75 feet apart.
The court was satisfied that, moments before commencing his second set, the plaintiff was intercepted by Mr Bowen, a ‘stunt clown’, who warned the plaintiff the distance between the ramps was too short for his performance.
It was found that the plaintiff disregarded the warning on the basis that it had been measured by another professional, Mr Schubring, and proceeded to attempt the jump which resulted in him sustaining injury.
The court considered that the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff, in relation to ramp placement and movement, was a duty to take reasonable care in organising the event, as a promoter and manager of the event.
Having engaged competent contractors and having communicated the need for ramp movement, as well as supervising the set-up and rehearsal at lunchtime and tasking the riders with deciding amongst themselves who would move the down ramp at relevant times, it was found that the defendant owed no residual duty of care.
The court further considered that, in the event that a finding was made as to the defendant’s breach of duty, it would have found that he had no liability to the plaintiff, on the basis that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risk of injury as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
This compensation law casenote appears courtesy of Travis Schultz & Partners (TSP), where the author, Jemma Barnard, is an Associate. As part of the firm’s commitment to providing ongoing legal education, TSP practitioners review relevant judgments and prepare case summaries for the legal profession. A free searchable catalogue of compensation law casenotes is available at schultzlaw.com.au/case-summaries (registration required). The full version of the judgments can be found at austlii.edu.au.