Accidents are a fact of life. Sometimes they are the result of our own inattention or carelessness while at other times, an accident might result from the negligence of some other person or party. If you sustain an injury in the second of these situations, you may be entitled to compensation.
If you are injured in an accident that happens in a public place, you may be able to make what is known as a public liability claim. The incident might occur in a shopping centre, a CBD pedestrian mall, a train station, a council park, or even on someone else’s private property. Nearly all of these venues are required to hold a public liability insurance policy. Any successful claim for damages you make will be paid from this policy, provided you can show that the owner/operator of the location owed you a duty of care and that the duty was breached by the venue’s negligence.
It should be noted that public liability claims can also cover situations where a person is injured from an animal attack, a physical assault, a boating accident, food poisoning from a food outlet and more.
Naturally enough, an insurance company will conduct its own investigation into the incident in order to either negate or reduce the amount it must pay as part of the insured party’s compensation payout. The insurer may, for example, try to show that you somehow helped cause the accident, and therefore contributed to your injury, or that you activated an old, pre-existing injury for which the venue can’t be held liable.
The key to a successful compensation claim, therefore, is preparation to ensure the claim is as compelling as possible. Specialist compensation lawyers such as Lifestyle Injury Lawyers will do the hard work for you, but there are also some things you should do if injured in a public place…
Key things to remember
If you’re injured in a public place your first reaction will likely be shock and perhaps even embarrassment. But your first priority is, of course, to assess whether you’re injured, how badly you’re injured, and whether you need immediate medical attention.
Depending on whether you remain on the scene or not, there are some other things you should concentrate on if you have the presence of mind. The strength of a compensation claim usually depends on the quality of the evidence gathered to support the claim, which is why if you can, you should:
- Take photos of the scene of the accident, including anything which may have caused it (loose material, water or food on the floor, for example).
- Collect contact details of any eyewitnesses – your legal representative will need to contact them later.
- Recording the contact details of the owner, operator, business or local council that controls the space where your injury occurred. If possible, obtain the details of their public liability insurance policy, though this detail can be chased up later.
- Most large commercial premises such as office blocks and shopping centres will have a formal accident reporting process in the event of an incident. If possible you should ask for a copy of the form you are asked to fill out and sign which records details of the accident. If there is no accident reporting process, make sure the owner or operator is fully informed about the incident.
Obviously if you are seriously hurt, an accompanying family member or friend can help with the above checklist, or you should contact a compensation lawyer as soon as possible after the accident in order for them to immediately begin the evidence collection process.
In the days and weeks after the accident it’s important to collect every record created as a result of sustaining the injury, such as receipts for the cost of travelling to and from medical treatment and the cost of the treatment itself.
How is the claim handled?
Public liability claims can be anything but straightforward. Proving negligence on behalf of the owner/operator of the place where you had the accident requires showing that they owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty by failing to mitigate a risk that was foreseeable and significant by a reasonable person in the same position.
In order to claim compensation, you need to show loss as a result of your injury. In addition to the evidence you might collect at the scene when the accident occurs, evidence of your loss such as lost income as a result of being unable to work must be provided with the claim. A medico-legal report from an independent examiner plus a physiotherapy or rehab plan may also be required.
Again, your expert compensation lawyer can draw all this information together to support your claim, removing the time and stress involved in preparing the claim and allowing you to recover.
Your claim needs to be made within three years of the accident occurring. Once filed, the insurer has a right to be provided with or obtain any evidence in relation to your claim, including asking that you submit to a medical assessment by a medico-legal specialist of its choosing.
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Settlement of a public liability claim usually involves a process of negotiation between the claimant and the insurer. Where negotiation cannot produce a satisfactory resolution, litigation may be necessary.
It makes sense to consult compensation experts such as Lifestyle Injury Lawyers to guide you through a public liability compensation claim. We will bring your case together by collecting all necessary evidence, make sure it is submitted on time, and conduct the latter stages of the process to ensure your claim has the best chance of achieving the result you seek.