Damages of £21,500 awarded after lighthouse boat trip injury

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A WORKER who was badly hurt on a boat trip to a lighthouse has been awarded damages worth £21,500.

Finance assistant Rosemary Cairns was sent to the lighthouse on the Isle of May in the Forth to carry out an inventory.

But the 55-year-old badly hurt her back after the boat, which was being driven too fast, hit choppy water and “banged down” twice in 5ft waves.

The incident happened on the way to the Isle of May's lighthouse
The incident happened on the way to the Isle of May’s lighthouse Pic: JeremyA

 

Mrs Cairns, from Edinburgh, needed hospital treatment and was off work for more than a year.

She sued her employer, Northern Lighthouse Board, and the boat’s owners, Calypso Marine Ltd, in the Court of Session.

In a written statement from the court published yesterday (Thu), Lord Drummond Young awarded her damages.

Mrs Cairns said she had no training or education for being a boat passenger before setting off on the trip in October 2009.

She and her husband, Thomas, a maintenance engineer for the board, set off from Pittenweem in Fife.

The vessel they used was the 30ft-long Taeping, a rigid inflatable boat.

 

Choppy

She had not been keen to go on the trip but her manager told her she should go to check assets at the lighthouse, such as batteries.

She told the court in November last year: “I could see the lighthouse from the distance. It wasn’t far off. I felt the waves had started to get higher. It was a bit more choppy I felt.”

The boat went up on the waves twice, she said, and “banged down”, causing her to cry out and the helmsman to stop the boat.

Mrs Cairns was in pain and felt sick and boat returned slowly to Anstruther where an ambulance met her to take her to hospital.

She was off work for 15 months after the journey, and medical notes said she had pain in her lumbar spine.

 

Slammed

In a written decision, Lord Drummond Young said: “I think it is clear that the boat was driven continuously at a speed of about 17 to 18 knots, which was too fast for the conditions as it gave rise to a significant risk of slamming, with a consequent risk of injury to the passengers.

“That is precisely what happened: the boat slammed after crossing each of two successive waves and the pursuer was injured in consequence.”

A safety briefing Mrs Cairns was given was “inadequate”, he said, as it failed to mention the need for passengers to brace themselves and take their weight on their legs.

He said that Fife-based Calypso Marine Ltd “are liable for the full sum payable to the pursuer”.

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