Courts Making Camping Almost Impossible
'Camping under threat' by Roseanne Barrett The Courier-Mail 3/12/2007

The law and eager lawyers put holidays at risk.

THE Australian family camping holiday is under threat from legal claims and rising costs. Caravan Parks Association of Queensland has raised concerns tourism is being hit hard by chronic litigants who made claims against operators for personal injuries.

It comes after a woman was awarded almost $24,000 after she tripped over a rock at a Sunshine Coast campground while going to the toilet in the middle of the night. The incident in May 2000, left her with a cut to her leg that required 18 stitches.

The court found the caravan park was not negligent and did not breach its duty of care but the rock was a hazard.

The damages were cut by half as the camper could have seen the rock with a torch or gaslight.

Caravan Parks Association of Queensland chief executive Ron Chapman said operations were becoming increasingly difficult with "chronic litigants" and "ambulance-chasing lawyers". He said in a recent case backpackers were awarded $80,000 after tripping over a raised annexe pad when drunk.

"They shouldn't even have been walking in that area — that's the stupidity of the liability laws," Mr Chapman said.

Parks Insurance marketing manager Rob Meyer said there were between 50 and 70 liability claims each year.

Mr Meyer said rates of claims had fallen over the past four to five years but many were "ridiculous".

"People who are playing on a playground and their children fall and break their arms because they are playing, then they sue because the playground wasn't properly supervised," he said. "They're all ridiculous."

Dora Low, whose family has owned the Southport Tourist Park for 27 years, said rising costs were making it harder for smaller, privately run parks to make ends meet: "It's gone berserk. We can't afford to be here," she said.

Mrs Low said it was not only insurance costs that had risen but, with coastal land values skyrocketing in recent years, council fees also had soared.