A single mother run down by a para-triathlete in a wheelchair during a triathlon is suing race organisers after she suffered a brain injury.
A single mother run down by a para-triathlete in a wheelchair during a triathlon is suing race organisers after she suffered a brain injury.

Triathlete’s $1.8m lawsuit over ‘devastating’ collision

A SINGLE mother who was run down by a para-triathlete in a wheelchair during the Gold Coast Triathlon is suing the race organisers after she suffered a traumatic brain injury which she says has had a devastating impact on her life.

Sunshine Coast single mother and clinical psychologist Sally James was forced to close her successful practice and now struggles to survive financially after the horrific collision during the 2018 Luke Harrop Memorial Gold Coast Triathlon.

Sally James was a fit and healthy triathlete when she was knocked down by a para-athlete during the GC triathlon in 2018 and suffered a significant brain injury.
Sally James was a fit and healthy triathlete when she was knocked down by a para-athlete during the GC triathlon in 2018 and suffered a significant brain injury.

She is suing the event organisers, USM Events, in the Supreme Court for almost $1.8 million, claiming the organisers breached their duty of care by failing to conduct the race on an appropriately designed course, failed to warn participants of the narrowing of the course and unnecessarily exposed racers to a risk of injury.

"The risk of harm to which the plaintiff was exposed in the circumstances described … was foreseeable, was not insignificant and was a risk which, in the circumstances, a reasonable person in the position of the defendant would have taken steps to guard against it," the claim states.

According to court documents, the triathlon, which usually includes run, swim and cycle legs, had to be cut back to a duathlon on the morning of the race, cancelling the swim leg due to water quality issues and causing the course and schedule to be altered.

Ms James was struck from behind by a para-triathlete travelling at high speed and says she was left with permanent injuries to her head and spine and now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic headaches, tinnitus and nuchal vertigo.

Ms James, 54, lives at the Sunshine Coast with her twin sons and said the incident had changed her life forever, forcing her to shut down her successful clinical psychology practice, ending her career and leaving her without an ­income.

"This was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it," she told The Courier-Mail.

"This moment in time was to change my life in ways I could never have imagined."

Ms James said she now struggles to make ends meet and had to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from her superannuation to cover living and medical expenses.

Sally James with her sons Oscar and Charlie James. Picture: John McCutcheon/Sunshine Coast Daily
Sally James with her sons Oscar and Charlie James. Picture: John McCutcheon/Sunshine Coast Daily

Compensation lawyer Travis Schulz is representing Ms James and said sportspeople and even volunteers at sporting events needed to be better informed about the insurance offered.

"These types of underinsurance cases are not uncommon, as many people who pay association membership and event entry fees mistakenly believe the supplied cover would be adequate in the event of injury," Mr Schulz said.

"Because there are time limits for submitting a claim, which can range anywhere from three months to six years, it's also important to find out your rights quickly to ensure the matter is handled accurately and within the right time frame."

USM Events has not yet filed its response.

Originally published as Triathlete's $1.8m lawsuit over 'devastating' collision


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