Public Liability Claim

Public Liability Claim
By | Public Liability Claim

Here is the thing about personal injury law: It appears simple, but it can actually be quite complicated. Among other things, lawyers working in this area must determine whether a prospective client has a viable case and what type of claim to pursue. We must also weigh which legal strategy is most likely to result in a substantial judgment or settlement in favour of the claimant. All of this is largely determined by the circumstances that led to the person’s injury. Relevant factors include what happened, how it happened, and where it happened.

For the purposes of this article, we will explore the situations in which we may pursue a public liability claim on your behalf.

Defining public liability

In Queensland, public liability is legally defined as any situation in which:

  • an individual, business or entity;
  • has a legal obligation or duty;
  • to keep people safe whilst on the premises; and
  • violates that duty; and
  • you are injured as a result.

We may be able to help you pursue a public liability claim as long as you were not hurt at work or in a motor vehicle accident. It should be noted there is an exception for workers who are engaged as contractors or through a labour hire firm and are injured at work. They may be able to make a public liability claim unless there are indemnity clauses or conditions in the contract which protect the employer from injury claims by a contractor or labour hire firm.

Another thing to keep in mind is that contrary to popular belief, these claims are not limited to incidents that happen on public property. You may also be able to seek compensation from someone who:

  • owns or occupies;
  • a private home or similar space; and
  • fails to keep you safe;
  • while you are on the premises; and
  • you are injured as a result.

What must be proven

To make a successful public liability claim, there must be enough evidence to prove that:

  • someone had a legal duty of care (the legal obligation to keep you safe);
  • they did not fulfill this obligation;
  • there are reasonable expectations that their failure to do so could result in injury or damage.

In this context, it is important to note that you can pursue liability claims under state and federal laws. However, you should also be aware that changes in public liability laws have made it harder to show negligence if you were hurt by an “obvious hazard”.

Common public liability claims

The following are examples of incidents or accidents that often result in public liability claims:

  • shopping centre injuries;
  • playground and schoolyard injuries;
  • injuries incurred while playing sports;
  • injuries stemming from a slip or fall at a supermarket or similar location;
  • dog bites and other injuries caused by animals;
  • falls resulting in injuries while in parks, gardens or on footpaths;
  • illness caused by food poisoning.

Building your case

If you were hurt in any of the circumstances detailed above, be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Doing so is critical for three reasons. The first is for your wellbeing. The second is that it will boost your credibility. And the third is that any medical records will serve as valuable proof of your injuries.

In addition to your medical records, any pictures of your actual injuries will help bolster your claim. So will photographs of the place where you were hurt. We will also need any records serving as proof of lost wages and relevant expenses. Documents showing the dates of medical appointments will also be helpful as we build your case.

Expected amount of compensation

One question that most clients have is how much compensation they can expect to receive in a successful claim. Unfortunately there is no simple answer. This is because every case is different. Factors usually taken into consideration are:

  • Expenses associated with the initial treatment of the physical or psychological injury.
  • Ongoing medical costs, such as rehabilitation, home care and so forth.
  • Non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
  • Loss of earnings or superannuation due to the inability to work.

If the circumstances leading to your injury or injuries were especially egregious, the court may also award “aggravated and exemplary” damages. A court will usually do so when it wants to punish the defendant.

You should be aware that you may also be able to obtain compensation through this sort of claim if you weren’t actually hurt. Specifically, you may be able to do so as a family who incurred certain costs while caring for the injured person. Depending on the circumstances you may also be able to seek compensation for undue stress or other difficulties incurred as a result of their injury.

To learn more about making this sort of claim, we are here to help. Contact our Gold Coast personal injury lawyers through our website, by email at, or by phone at (07) 5627 0321 to schedule a meeting with a member of our public liability law team today.

injured at shopping centre
By | Public Liability Claim

What is public liability compensation?

In the unfortunate situation that you are involved in an accident in a public place, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries. You are potentially able to claim compensation not only for the injuries that you sustain, but for loss of earnings, pain and suffering, medical expenses such as rehabilitation costs, and domestic assistance. There is, however, a time limit of three years following the accident to make a claim.

To be able to make a public liability compensation claim, you must establish:

  1. That you were owed a duty of care;
  2. that the duty of care was breached;
  3. that the person who breached the duty of care should have known that it would cause your injury.

What is not covered by public liability compensation?

Every situation is different, and claims are dependent upon the specifics of the case. The most common personal injury compensation claims result from motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, dust diseases and sexual misconduct.

What can you claim for loss of earnings?

Damages in public liability claims can be made for loss of past and future earnings, as stated in the Civil Liability Act. Financial support may also be offered to family members of the person injured.

The maximum amount that may be claimed is capped at $3,617.40 gross per week as set out in section 12 of the Civil Liability Act, even though the weekly payment amounts are based on a claimant’s pre-accident income.

Compensation for pain and suffering

Once again, every situation is different and the amount that one may claim is dependent on the circumstances of the situation.  In NSW, damages for non-economic loss or pain and suffering, are only awarded for injuries that are at least 15 per cent of the most extreme case. The formula for assessing these damages in the Civil Liability Act is as follows:

  • determine the severity of the claimant’s non-economic loss as a proportion of a most extreme case. The proportion should be expressed  as a percentage;
  • confirm the maximum amount that may be awarded… for non-economic loss in a most extreme case. This amount is indexed each year under section 17;
  • use the Table (in s 16) to determine the percentage of the maximum amount payable in respect of the claim. The amount payable under this section for non-economic loss is then determined by multiplying the maximum amount that may be awarded in a most extreme case by the percentage set out in the Table.

The current maximum amount of damages that may be awarded for non-economic loss as of October 1, 2018, is $635,000.

Medical costs and rehabilitation treatment

Claims may also be made for past and future medical expenses which can include pharmaceutical expenses, rehabilitation treatment and the cost of travelling to and from medical appointments.

Domestic assistance

A public liability claim may also help to cover the costs of domestic care such as nursing care and home assistance. These costs will not be awarded, however, unless the court is satisfied that the domestic care is necessary and that the need for the care is as a result of the injury sustained.

Seeking legal advice

If you are involved in an accident, it is advisable that you seek legal advice to ensure you can access the compensation you may be entitled to as you recover.