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In Australia, public liability is the law that holds individuals, businesses or organisations responsible for injuries, property damage or financial losses suffered due to negligence or wrongdoing.

Public liability law applies when a person or entity is found liable for causing harm to another person or their property when a ‘duty of care’ was owed.

The legal significance of public liability

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.

How does public liability differ from motor vehicle accident compensation or workers’ compensation?

When you’re at work, your employer has the duty of care to keep you safe. If you’re injured at work, you may be able to make a claim for workers’ compensation.

Likewise, when we drive or ride on our roads, we owe other drivers, riders and pedestrians a duty of care for their safety. If you’re injured on the road, you may be able to claim motor vehicle accident compensation.

Public liability claims fall outside of work or road injury claims, and encompass many other areas where an injury can occur.

What are some examples of public liability claims?

Some common types of public liability claims are:

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

Am I eligible to make a public liability claim?

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.

If either of these situations has occurred for you, we recommend seeking legal support as soon as possible as time limits for making a claim can apply. 

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 public liability 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’re in an accident and 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’s 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.

Gathering evidence for a public liability claim can involve collecting witness statements, documenting the accident scene, and seeking medical treatment and a record of your injuries.

3. That you were hurt and suffered financial loss because of your injury.

To make a public liability claim, you must 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 public liability 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.

Your lawyer will be able to give you an idea of the compensation you may be able to claim once they have an understanding of your claim, injuries and situation.

Know the time limits for making a public liability 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.

Next steps in navigating the public liability claims process

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. Our public liability lawyers 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.

Talk to one of our specialist public liability lawyers today

If you've been hurt in a public place, including a sports field, rental property, path or in a store, our experienced team of public liability lawyers can help. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.