What is public liability law?
Individuals, businesses and organisations have a 'duty of care' to ensure the safety of people. This covers privately and publicly owned space such as sporting fields, parks, gardens and footpaths, as well as public, commercial and retail property. For example, this law can cover:
- playground and schoolyard accidents
- slips and falls in supermarkets and other retail outlets
- injuries on private property, including on rental properties
- dog attacks
- boat and water-sport accidents
- sporting injuries
- bicycle accidents that don't involve a vehicle
- physical assault.
Anyone who causes or contributes to an accident may be found legally liable. Someone may even be liable for an accident caused by someone else in a place that is under their control. For example, a public transport provider may be liable for injuries caused by a passenger, or a shopping centre could be liable for injuries caused by a customer.
Businesses and others who occupy property (other than residents) are required to carry public liability insurance, so compensation claims are mostly made against insurance companies.
Compensation may cover medical costs (including past and future costs); lost income; pain, suffering and lost enjoyment of life; and home help and attendant care.
Making a claim
To make a successful public liability claim, you need to be able to prove that:
- you were owed a duty of care
- that duty of care was breached
- it could be predicted that this breach would lead to injury or damage.
There is a cap on what you can claim for pain and suffering. Recent changes in the law have made it more difficult to prove negligence if you are injured as a result of an 'obvious hazard'.
If you think you have a claim, you should:
- seek medical treatment and tell your doctor how you were injured
- keep records and receipts for any wages lost and for medical and related expenses, including the dates of medical consultations
- take photos of the injuries and where you were injured (where possible)
- contact us to discuss your claim.
Why Maurice Blackburn?
Public liability law is complicated, so it's important to get help from someone who understands its complexities. We have been helping people make compensation claims for nearly 100 years and are committed to fighting for what is fair.
Each state and territory has its own laws that apply to public liability cases, so you also need a lawyer with experience in your area. We have offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and throughout Australia. We also have all the resources and experience that come with being a national firm.
All you need to know about public liability
You have the right to be safe when you’re in a public place. If you have been hurt as the result of another person or organisation’s negligent behaviour you may be able to make a public liability claim for compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Public liability law means that an individual, business or organisation can be sued for negligent acts or omissions that result in the injury or death of a person. Generally, 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.
The occupier of a premises or the entity responsible for a public space has a legal 'duty of care' towards people who they can reasonably foresee will come into that premises or 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 residential premises.
Compensation may cover:
- medical costs (including past and future costs)
- lost income
- pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
- home help and attendant care.
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 if 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 a 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. The compensation is actually paid by insurance company.
A person's own home/contents insurance covers public liability if an accident occurs at a private residence.