Charter Boat, What Charter Boat?

She was a 22 year old with the world at her feet. He was meant to be in control as the captain of a party boat. Little did they know that their paths would cross in the most horrific of circumstances.

the facts

On a beautiful summer’s day in 2009, Nikki Bannister decided to head out for a day of boating on the Broadwater with her friends in their 3 metre aluminium dingy. 

They were anchored in the main channel, fishing, when suddenly a massive 17.3 metre charter boat headed straight towards them. They tried to draw attention to the charter boat by waving and screaming to no avail. The trio had no choice but to leap into the water as the charter boat drove directly into them, running Ms Bannister over.

While Ms Bannister fought the wrath of the charter boat, captain, owner, and operator of the ship, Dennis Healey, enjoyed topless entertainment on the lower deck. His failure to operate the boat left Ms Bannister in hospital. She suffered numerous spinal fractures and a haematoma. 

Not only was Ms Bannister physically injured, she also suffered from psychological injuries as a result of the accident and was unable to return to work, care for herself and struggled with activities of daily living, facing lifelong pain and restrictions.

The reckless moment Mr Healey picked topless entertainment over control of his boat was the moment that changed Ms Bannister's life. 

the judgement

His Honour Judge Farr SC found that there was negligence. 


His Honour Judge Farr Sc

“his [Mr Healey's] absence from the helm meant that no one was either manning it or keeping a lookout ahead”

Therefore, Mr Healy was held liable for his negligent conduct. Ms Bannister received over $350,000 in damages for her injuries and suffering. 


The above case was centered around the amount of money the case was worth and didn’t focus on the legal principles surrounding the accident. However, it is important to note that a boating accident is calculated on the same basis as other personal injury claims in Queensland and takes into consideration a variety of factors including injuries suffered and the effect the accident has on your ability to work and live.   

The good news is, if you’re in a boating accident you can bring a claim, however like other personal injury claims, you could be liable for contributory negligence if you are found to have contributed to your accident.

other boating accidents that can give rise to a claim:

Getting out on the water is a favourite Australian past time, however there are many inherent dangers and risks that are associated with activities like boating.

 Other causes of boat accidents can include:
  • Poor driving
  • Faulty maintenance
  • Freak accidents
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    Negligence of either driver, or driver of the other boat
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    Collisions with other boats
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    Collisions with jetty's, sand banks, or piers
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    Injury from parts of the boat, including propellers
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    Driving without a licence
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    Boats hitting waves or wakes of other boats

In 2015, NSW alone faced 16 fatalities, 82 serious injuries, and 281 incidents related to boating.

Statistics from ‘Boating Incidents in NSW Statistical Statement 2014 – 2015’, available online 

The important thing to remember is, if you’re injured in a boating accident, there are options for compensation available.

Written by Ashley Tulley | Chief Commercial Officer