Pilot Bruce Towers will return to court to fight for damages after winning a 2016 lawsuit against Hevilift.
Pilot Bruce Towers will return to court to fight for damages after winning a 2016 lawsuit against Hevilift.

Paraplegic pilot’s $9 million fight

A PARAPLEGIC pilot will fight for more than $9 million in damages from his former employer next year.

Victorian Bruce Towers will renew his fight against aviation company Hevilift in Cairns Supreme Court next February.

Mr Towers was flying for Hevilift in Papua New Guinea in 2006.

Bruce Towers.
Bruce Towers.

On April 20 the Bell 206L-3 Long Ranger helicopter he was flying was enveloped by clouds in the Southern Highlands and crashed, killing three passengers.

Mr Towers suffered serious injury to his C5-C6 spinal cord and was left an incomplete quadriplegic.

In a statement dated July 2019 and filed in the Supreme Court, Mr Towers has submitted a total claim of $9,001,907.30, including past and future economic loss, superannuation, interest, special damages, past and future care and recurrent expenses.

During a lawsuit in 2016 Justice Jim Henry ruled that Hevilift had breached its duty of care by not warning Mr Towers about high speed cloud formations in the region he was flying.

"It was information Hevilift, as a business regularly operating helicopters there, either did or, acting with reasonable care for its pilots and passengers, should have known," Justice Henry found.

"The crash would not have occurred and Mr Towers would not have been injured if he either had been warned of the phenomenon and risk or had been directed … to divert to an alternative and safe landing location."

Mr Tower's civil trial win was not the end of a grinding court process - a failed 2018 appeal by Hevilift was followed by unsuccessful mediation over damages.

The parties will return to court, where Mr Towers is expected to give evidence about his medical condition and expenses incurred since his accident.

The court is also expected to hear from the spinal specialist, occupational therapist, gastroenterologist and urologist who have treated Mr Towers.

Mr Towers has also claimed extensive changes to his residence, including a lifting station, a new wheelchair, lowered kitchen equipment, railings, automatic and wide access doors and windows.

Justice Henry has ordered an updated statement of loss and damages by January 14 next year.