Public liability law: what is it?

Every day innocent people are injured in public places. Whether it’s slipping on a wet floor at the supermarket, being attacked by a dog, or an injury at a playground – there are many avoidable situations which can cause serious physical and psychological injuries.

It’s important to know that if you are hurt in a public place – as a result of another individual or an organisation’s negligent behaviour – you may be covered by public liability law and eligible to receive compensation.

What does public liability law cover?

Generally, public liability covers you in two situations: if you are injured while going about your daily life, or if someone close to you dies, because of the negligence of someone else.

Public liability can apply to injuries caused by a variety of situations. And while its name suggests these are all public situations, it can also cover you for injuries you sustained in privately owned places too – such as a shopping centres or a house you rent.

Some common types of public liability claims are:

  • Slips and falls in supermarkets and other retail outlets
  • Playground and schoolyard accidents
  • Dog attacks
  • Boat and water-sport accidents
  • Sporting injuries
  • Food poisoning
  • Physical assaults
  • Accidents occurring in rental properties
  • Footpath trips
  • Pub/nightclub assaults
  • Bicycle accidents that don’t involve a vehicle.

What do you need for a successful public liability claim?

If you decide to make a public liability claim, you will need to speak to a lawyer. Your lawyer will then review your case to ensure you can prove three things:

1. That the person or company at fault owed you a duty of care.

Duty of care refers to the responsibility that businesses, organisations and other individuals have for the safety and wellbeing of the public. If you are harmed or injured due to the negligence of someone else, they may have failed in their duty of care – and be ultimately responsible.

2. That the person or company at fault failed to take care of your safety.

Once it is clear that the person or company at fault did owe you a duty of care, your lawyer will need to prove that they failed in that responsibility.

3. That you were hurt and suffered financial loss as a result of your injury.

To bring a public liability claim you must also prove that you have suffered a permanent injury. To do this, you will need to see a medical specialist who will assess your injury. They will then produce a report which can also be used to support your case. Your lawyer will arrange this on your behalf. 

We know that making a claim can seem overwhelming, but our team can guide you through these steps to make the process as easy as possible. 

Your right to compensation

If an individual or business has failed in their duty of care, and you have experienced an injury as a result, then you may be eligible for compensation.

We understand that compensation can never undo the suffering caused as a result of someone else’s negligence. However, it can provide important financial support towards medical treatment and allow you to move on with your life.

You can claim compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Home help and attendant care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past and future lost earnings.

Know the time limits for making a claim

If you are considering making a public liability claim, it’s important to know that there are strict time limits which apply. A claim must be lodged within three years from the date of your accident. Children and people with disabilities have six years to lodge a claim.

It is important to seek legal advice quickly to protect your entitlements. When you call Maurice Blackburn, finding out your rights won't cost you anything and our initial consultations are obligation-free. 

What’s next?

Every public liability case is different and needs careful legal analysis.

If you have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a result of the negligence of someone else, you should speak to a lawyer. Legal advice can help you learn if you may be entitled to compensation and what you need to do next.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Public liability

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Dimi Ioannou

Maurice Blackburn Melbourne

Dimi Ioannou is a Principal Lawyer and Practice Group Leader at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in charge of the firm’s Public and Product Liability team in Melbourne. Dimi is an accredited specialist in personal injury law.

Dimi works in the area of public liability and represents clients in a wide range of consumer law litigation involving different product liability claims.

Dimi also represents families at coronial inquests, acti…

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