Public Liability Claims in Queensland
In Queensland, people who slip, trip, or fall in public places (and even private places) and injure themselves might have a public liability compensation claim to assert under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld). In legal circles, this legislation is referred to as the ‘PIPA’. The PIPA applies to all personal injury claims arising out of an incident whether happening before, on, or after 18 June 2002. However, it does not apply to motor vehicle accidents and some workplace accidents.
The most common type of claim arises from slipping over on spilled liquid on a shopping centre or supermarket floor, however claims can also be made if the injury occurred at a private facility or residence (other than your own residence – unless you are renting).
Most public venues and private places have public liability insurance in place to cover claims for compensation.
Your claim’s success depends upon whether or not the accident or injury occurred as a consequence or fault of someone else. This is known as negligence.
If your injury is serious enough, you may also be able to make additional compensation claims through your TPD insurance or life insurance policies, if you have any.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
The most common type of public liability claim is for a slip, trip or fall, such as:
- a slip, trip or fall at a shopping centre – particularly on a wet or slippery floor
- accidents at the premises of a sporting complex, business, or construction site – such as tripping over untidy cables or tools
The most common injuries sustained from slips, trips, and falls are:
- musculoskeletal injuries (injuries to muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs)
- cuts and bruises
More serious injuries and deaths can also happen.
Other Public Liability Claims
Other examples of possible Public Liability Claims include:
- a fire or explosion
- animal attacks
- food poisoning
- recreational accidents
- physical or sexual assaults
- accidents at hotels and motels – such as balcony collapses, or doors falling from their hinges
- accidents at a construction site – such as falling objects, unstable scaffolds
- accidents at the premises of a company or other organisation
- accidents at a school, college, or a university
- accidents at someone else’s home
Commencing A Public Liability Claim
Your claim will start with completing a Notice of Claim form pursuant to the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act which is required to be served on the at-fault party. Usually, the at-fault party has insurance, and the insurers will engage lawyers to oppose your claim and attempt to negotiate a settlement to prevent you from filing in court.
Our experienced legal practitioners know how to calculate and maximise your damages for your public liability claim.
Roche Legal represents injured clients with valid public liability claims on a no win no fee basis.
In Queensland there are important time limits for making a public liability claim. From the date you suffered your injury, you must:
- serve an appropriate claim notice on the at-fault party within 9 months (or 1 month from the date you first consulted a lawyer about making a claim – whichever is earliest); and
- file a formal court action within 3 years.
If the 9 month limitation date has already passed, you may still make a claim if you have a reasonable excuse for the delay. Roche Legal has successfully made “out-of-time” claims for many clients – however it is important to act fast.
The courts are more strict about the 3 year time-limit and if you are out of time to file your formal court action, a special application needs to be put forward to the court seeking permission – which is not often granted without a very good reason.
How To Win A Public Liability Claim
To win a public liability claim in Queensland, the following three things must be proven:
- You were owed a ‘duty of care’ by whoever was at fault.
- The person or organisation at fault failed to provide this duty of care.
- You suffered injury and loss as a consequence.
A duty of care is an obligation that the organisation or individual occupying a property has to take reasonable steps to prevent injury and loss to others who use the space. A successful public liability claim requires proof that not only were you owed a duty of care by the occupier of the property, but this duty was breached by the occupier. Further, as a result of the occupier’s breach, you need to have unfortunately suffered an injury and loss.
It is possible to lose a public liability claim – see some real-life examples where plaintiffs have been injured but lost in court by failing to establish a breach of duty against the occupier of the property.
The Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) sets out various circumstances that might apply to limit or restrict a person from being awarded damages. Such circumstances that may restrict an award of damages entirely include:
- Where the risk of injury was obvious.
- Where the injury was sustained from engaging in a dangerous recreational activity.
- In a case for medical negligence, where an inherent risk of the procedure or medication materialised that could not have been avoided by the exercise of reasonable care and skill.
Circumstances that may cause a degree of contributory negligence, reducing the award of damages can include:
- The injured person’s level of intoxication contributing to the accident.
- The injured person’s general conduct at the time of injury – such as wilfully exposing themselves to a foreseeable risk of injury.
The examples above are not exhaustive. It is important to discuss the elements and circumstances of each specific injury claim with an experienced personal injury lawyer to know whether the claim is likely to succeed or fail.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will you run my Public Liability Claim No Win No Fee?
Yes. Roche Legal offers No Win No Fee representation to everyone with a qualifying public liability claim. Contact us for a free initial consultation. We have offices in Brisbane, Springwood, and the Sunshine Coast.
Who can I bring the public liability claim against?
Public liability claims are generally made against the ‘occupier’ of the property (usually the owner of the building or the commercial tenant). The occupier usually holds public liability insurance to cover claims made by people who were injured on their property.
If you were injured on someone else’s residential property, there is a reasonable chance that they also have public liability insurance as a requirement of their mortgage.
What can I claim compensation for?
Your compensation amount from a public liability claim depends on a number of factors, including your age and work situation. Compensation can be claimed for:
- pain and suffering.
- loss of enjoyment of the amenities of life.
- any past loss of earnings.
- any future loss of earnings as a result of lost capacity to work.
- past and future medical expenses.
- paid or gratuitous care and assistance by family, friends or hired help.
Compensation payments are usually at their highest when the injured person is in their late 20s or 30s, married rather than single, and gainfully employed in a manual labour style occupation.
In contrast, compensation payments are often on the lower end of the scale when the injured person is over the retirement age of 67, single, and/or unemployed.
How much compensation can I claim?
The amount of compensation you can claim for public liability claims in Queensland depends on a whole range of factors including the seriousness of your injury, your age, any past loss of income and your future prospects.
Essentially, you can claim for the loss you have suffered as a result of the injury.
If a public liability lawyer agrees to represent you in your claim for personal injuries in Queensland, chances are your claim is worth at least $50,000.
Read more: Average public liability claim pay outs.
What if I was intoxicated at the time of the accident?
The Civil Liability Act (‘CLA’) applies to public liability claims in Queensland.
Section 47 of the CLA sets out that your claim value will be reduced by 25% if you were intoxicated when you suffered your injury on account of contributory negligence.
If your blood alcohol content was more than 0.15% the amount of contributory negligence applied increases to 50% unless you can satisfy the court that the intoxication did not contribute to you sustaining your injuries.
Who pays the compensation?
We seek to claim compensation from the liable party, organisation, or public body directly. However, most parties or organisations in such situations have public liability insurance to cover this situation so the compensation sum is usually paid by an insurance company rather than the direct respondent to your claim.
If the organisation does not have public liability insurance, they will be required to pay you compensation directly.
How long does a claim for compensation take?
Generally speaking we strive to complete Queensland public liability claims within 18 months if we’re able to settle out of court, or 2 years if we have to go to court.
The duration of a public liability claim may be impacted by the seriousness of your injuries, the claim’s complexity, and the tactics employed by the other side.