Public liability lawyers

Public liability

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If you have suffered an accident or injury which is the result of another person or organisation’s negligent behaviour, you may be able to make a claim for compensation under public liability law. At Maurice Blackburn we have a team of expert public liability lawyers, who can help you make your claim.

If you have been hurt in a public place, such as a shopping centre, a park, or even on the footpath, through no fault of your own, then you may be able to make a public liability claim. Public liability law covers a wide range of circumstances where you may have been injured, or where someone close to you has died. 

Sometimes we also help people with public liability and personal injury claims through our Social justice practice where the issues relate to public interest immunity, Ombudsman secrecy and suing the government.

We have Queensland offices in Brisbane, Browns Plains, Caboolture, Cairns, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Mackay, Rockhampton, Strathpine, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, and Townsville. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Public Liability?

Public liability law means that an individual, business or organisation can be sued for negligent acts or omissions which result in the injury or death of a person or damage to their property.  In general, to make a successful claim for negligence, you need to be able to prove that you were owed a ‘duty of care’, that the duty of care was breached, and that it could be predicted that this breach would lead to injury or damage.  

What sort of accidents may be covered?

The law covers a wide range of circumstances where you may have been injured, including:

  • playground and schoolyard accidents
  • injuries sustained during sporting activities where the space is poorly maintained or has fallen into disrepair
  • slips and falls in supermarkets or other retail outlets
  • dog attacks
  • plane or boat accidents
  • falls on public property
  • slippery bike tracks
  • physical assault, and
  • residential accidents.

What can I claim for?

Compensation may cover:

  • medical costs (including future costs)
  • lost income
  • pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • home help and attendant care.

Who can I claim from?

Anyone who causes or contributes to an injury may be found legally liable and required to pay compensation. They may even be liable for the actions of others while the location of the accident is under their control. For example, a provider of public transport could be held liable for injuries caused by a drunken passenger to another passenger, or an occupier of premises (such as a shopping centre) could be held liable for injuries caused by the actions of other shoppers. Businesses and other (non-domestic) occupiers of premises are required to carry Public Liability Insurance. So, in most cases, any claim for compensation is actually made against an insurance company.

Public liability claims can be made under both State and Federal legislation, although limits and thresholds on what you can claim for pain and suffering have been recently introduced. Changes have also been made to occupiers and public liability laws that mean it’s more difficult to prove negligence if you’re injured as a result of an ‘obvious hazard’. 

What do I do if I think I have a claim?

If you think you have a claim you should:

  • seek medical treatment immediately and tell your doctor how you were injured
  • keep records and receipts of all medical expenses and the dates of all medical consultations
  • keep records of any wages lost as a result of your injury
  • take photos of your injuries, where possible, and
  • take photos of where you were injured, where applicable.

What is duty of care?

The occupier of a premises or area has a legal “duty of care” towards people who they can reasonably foresee will come into that space.  It doesn’t matter if the property is privately or publicly owned and can include sporting fields, parks, gardens and footpaths, as well as public, commercial and retail premises.

Public liability and sport

Historically, compensation for claims of negligence were not always open to athletes or other participants in sport, in recognition of the fact that sports contained certain inherent risks. However, this is no longer the case, with the High Court ruling that just because an injury occurred in the context of an activity that contained certain inherent risks this did not eliminate a duty of care.

In addition, the occupiers or owners of sporting premises or other recreational facilities can also be held responsible under the area of occupier’s liability with respect to the safety of those facilities.

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