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Queensland Personal Injury Law Explained

A person who suffers an injury outside their residence—at work, on the road, in private, or in public—can make a personal injury claim for compensation. However, Queensland personal injury laws are complex. Because of the complexity, personal injury lawyers such as Roche Legal help injured victims make winning compensation claims and aid in settling disputes that result from wrongdoing and negligence of another person, business, government body, or other entity. 

In all circumstances (except for TPD Claims where fault doesn’t matter), a compensation claim for personal injuries requires you to establish that:

  • a duty of care was owed to you; and
  • there was a breach of the duty of care; and
  • you have suffered or will suffer loss as a consequence of the breach.

These are the basic elements of the tort of negligence required to entitle a person to compensation (damages).

The general principle of damages is that a plaintiff who has been injured by the negligence of a defendant should be awarded the sum of money that would put them in the same position had they not been injured.

If an injury is temporary or minor, there may be minimal or no damages to be claimed at all – even if another party was at fault.

If your injury wasn’t caused by the negligence of a third party, but it is serious enough to prevent you from continuing to work, you could still claim compensation if you held Total and Permanent Disablement (‘TPD’) insurance through your superannuation fund as at the date the injury occurred. 

In Brisbane, personal injury lawyers can help you understand what to expect, how to deal with insurance companies, and progress through the legal process required to access your maximum compensation entitlement (often known as ‘damages’).

There are many different types of personal injury claims one can make. However, the four most common types of injury claims in Queensland:

This page outlines the different legislation which governs the above personal injury claims.

If you’ve been injured and require advice on your entitlement to make a claim for damages, Roche Legal operates on a No Win No Fee basis and offers free initial consultations.


On average, personal injury claims take around 12 to 18 months to resolve. More complex cases and injuries that have a long recovery time may take longer to resolve. Due to strict time limitations, an injured person should not wait to see how well the injury heals before considering whether to start a claim as the delay could cause the time limitation to expire completely.

Time Limits Generally

If you are making a claim for personal injuries in Queensland, you typically have 3 years from the date of your injury to make a claim. This is a strict limitation; however, a court application can be brought seeking an extension in certain circumstances. Whilst it may sound simple, extending a time limitation is typically complex and expensive, with no guarantees. It is smart to always respect time limits and bring personal injury claims without delay.

If symptoms of your injury are not immediately apparent on the date of the incident, the 3 year time limit starts from the first appearance of symptoms of the injury.

There are other ‘softer’ time limits depending on your type of claim, such as:

  • workers’ compensation claims – 6 months from the date you sustained the personal injury;
  • motor vehicle accident claims – 9 months from the date of the accident or 1 month from the date you first consult a solicitor (whichever is earlier);
  • public liability claims – 9 months from the date of the accident or 1 month from the date you first instruct a solicitor (whichever is earlier);
  • historical sexual abuse claims – no time limit if the incident occurred whilst you were a minor (under 18);
  • TPD claims – depends on your policy – sometimes there is no time limit, other times there are strict limits.

So long as the 3 year limitation has not lapsed, the above time limitations may generally be extended informally by providing a reasonable excuse for the delay.

Most Common Types of Injury Claims

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Any worker who suffers an injury in the course of their employment are entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim – regardless of how the injury occurred or who was at fault. 

In Queensland, the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) requires all employers to hold insurance for each worker/employee to cover the event that someone suffers an injury. This means that claims are usually against the largest workers’ compensation insurer, Workcover Queensland rather than your employer directly.

Starting a Workcover claim is easy and can be commenced by simply reporting the injury to your employer, your doctor, and phoning Workcover.

Once the claim is accepted, the injured worker is entitled to have their medical expenses covered as well as their wages, until they have recovered. Once the injured worker has recovered (or when further medical treatment will not be of any use), the worker is issued with a notice of assessment and a lump sum offer of compensation. If the worker accepts the lump sum offer – that is the end of the line.

Roche Legal provides legal advice to injured workers in circumstances where:

  • the lump sum offer is inadequate; or
  • it is not possible for you to fully recover; or
  • the injury was not your fault; or
  • the injury is significant enough to require further substantial time off work. 

An injured worker is entitled to vastly more compensation when it can be proven that their injuries occurred due to the negligence of their employer in some way. This is achieved by rejecting the lump sum offer of compensation and instead making a common law claim for damages. It is important that you do not accept any offer of lump sum compensation, or you will be prevented from pursuing the common law claim.

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.

Read more about making a workers compensation claim.

Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

Persons injured by a car, truck, motorbike, quad bike, or other motor vehicles on the road are entitled to make compensation claims under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld). This Act requires all vehicles to hold compulsory third-party motor vehicle insurance (CTP insurance). You can make a claim if you were injured due to no fault of your own. For example:

  • as a pedestrian crossing the road; or
  • as a passenger in a single vehicle accident where someone else was driving; or
  • as a driver in a vehicle where another vehicle caused the collision.

Our team of personal injury experts know the first step in making successful motor vehicle injury claims, and the process involved to maximise your claim.

If you cannot identify the vehicle that injured you despite making a reasonable effort (for example, due to a hit-and-run scenario), you may still be able to make a claim under the Act. The Act allows you to sue Queensland’s Nominal Defendant in such circumstances, so long as you bring your claim before the strict expiry of 9 months after the accident date.

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.

Read more about making a car accident or CTP claim.

Public Liability Claims

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). Exampled of the most common type of public liability claims are:

  • slipping over on spilled liquid in a shopping centre, on or supermarket floor, or at a bar or night club;
  • tripping over damaged floorboards or carpet, or even a long power cord;
  • being hit in the head by a falling object.

Claims can also be made if the injury occurred at a private facility or residence (other than your own residence). Most public venues and private places have public liability insurance in place to cover claims for compensation. Our practitioners know how to calculate and maximise your damages for your public liability claim.

The Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) typically applies to all injuries that weren’t sustained at work or on the road, and therefore, in addition to public liability injuries, includes claims for injuries sustained as a result of medical negligence or by physical or sexual abuse.

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.

Read more about making a public liability claim.

TPD Claims

People who suffer an injury serious enough that it causes them to change career, or stop working all together, may be able to bring claim for ‘total and permanent disability’ (TPD), if they hold insurance cover through their superannuation fund.

TPD insurance is a form of life insurance governed by the Life Insurance Act 1995 (C’wlth) however there is no specific legislation which governs the claim process. A TPD or life insurance policy is simply a contract between yourself, and the insurer and claims can be made pursuant to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.

TPD claims can be made stand-alone, or in addition to other claims brought in negligence against an at-fault party pursuant to one the various schemes discussed on this page.

Some people even have multiple superannuation funds and therefore hold multiple TPD insurance policies without realising it. In such a scenario, more often than not, each individual TPD policy may be claimed on allowing the injured person to receive multiple payouts.

Roche Legal are able to review your TPD entitlements for free to advise whether you are covered. We also offer fixed fee services to process TPD claims.

Do You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?

In short – if you don’t use a personal injury lawyer, the insurance company or defendant responsible for paying the compensation will rip you off. Here’s a real life example.

There are three main reasons why injured victims should seek to be represented by the best personal injury lawyer available when making a compensation claim.

  1. Personal Injury Claims Are Complex – In Queensland, there is various legislation, pre-court procedures, and court procedures that must be followed to conduct a claim appropriately and successfully. Due to the complexity of the claim process and civil litigation generally, attempting to run your claim yourself usually means that you will miss an important deadline because you didn’t know about it, or you will offer or accept a small compensation amount because you didn’t know how to claim your full entitlement, factoring losses you will likely experience in the future as a result of your injuries.
  2. Your Personal Injury Claim Will Be Defended – Most of the time, personal injury claims in Queensland are actually paid out by insurance companies and not the person or party actually responsible. Insurance companies, no matter what they say on their billboards or tell you over the phone, are not your friends. They will knowingly and intentionally keep you uninformed if you attempt to navigate the claim process yourself. Unfortunately, an injured victim is no match for an experienced insurance claims advisor. Insurers are regularly advised and guided by experienced insurance lawyers behind the scenes and they will not hesitate to take advantage of your misfortune. A personal injury lawyer is required to always act in your best interest which means they will protect your rights at all times and prevent you from being taken advantage of.
  3. Obtaining Maximum Damages – The are various heads of damages you can claim compensation for in Queensland. Most people are unfortunately only familiar with one head of damage – i.e. pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is actually known as ‘general damages’ in Queensland and the amount you can claim in this regard is governed by legislation. In our opinion, the compensation amounts set out in this legislation are totally inadequate. The most significant head of damage is future economic loss, which is the amount claimable for the impact your injuries have on your earning capacity. The calculation of future economic loss is difficult and should be as precise and realistic as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer is able to perform these calculations and will make sure every head of damage is considered to maximise your compensation claim.

Considering the legislated cost protections that no win no fee personal injury lawyers must provide their clients in Queensland; injured victims are almost always better off using a personal injury lawyer than representing themselves. There is rarely any circumstance where an injured person is worse off for doing so, even after paying legal fees. In fact, statistics prove that injured victims who use lawyers are paid out more than 10 times the amount of compensation they would have been paid if they represented themselves.

If you are unsure whether you need a personal injury lawyer, Roche Legal offers free initial consultations to discuss your claim.

How Personal Injury Compensation Is Calculated

Depending on the type of claim and your individual circumstances, the computation for personal injury compensation varies.

Typically, a legal practitioner will make detailed calculations to determine the amount of income you would have generated and the health related expenses you would likely have incurred over the course of your life, pre-injury.

Similar calculations are performed for your current situation in life, factoring in a reduction in future income and often increased medical treatment expenses over time.

The gap between your actual life path post-injury and your pre-injury life path is the amount claimable under Queensland law. The goal of compensation is to restore you to your pre-injury financial position.

The calculations can include, but are not limited to:

  • damages for your pain and suffering
  • medical expenses coping with the injury such as ongoing physiotherapy, the need for future surgery or psychological counselling to adjust to your post-injury life
  • past financial loss or loss of earnings due to being unable to work immediately after your injury or whilst you’re recovering
  • future financial loss or loss of earnings due to being unable to work as often (or at all) due to the injury, or the need to retire prematurely
  • the cost of engaging professional assistance to care for you or your property
  • damage to property or property loss. 

Roche Legal’s personal injury lawyers can sit with you and discuss which financial aspects are relevant to your case or you can read our blog on the average compensation pay outs for personal injury claims in Queensland.

What is the average payout for a personal injury claim?

Payouts for personal injury claims are generally kept confidential and are usually only public knowledge if a judge determines the appropriate amount. In Queensland, the largest personal injury claim is considered to be around $20 million dollars for a heart-breaking and serious brain injury where the claimant requires constant care and assistance for the remainder of his life. Surprisingly, legislation limits the amount of damages that can be awarded for pain and suffering to a degree that seems totally inadequate. The largest component of most personal injury claims in Queensland is therefore the impact the injury has on their earning capacity in the future.

Personal injury claim payouts (or judgement awards, if the matter goes to trial) in Queensland can range anywhere from $0 – $20 million. Where you fall on the scale depends primarily on the nature and severity of the injury, and the difference between your earning potential prior to the injury and your future reduced earning capacity post-injury.

Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claims for 2019-20:

Historically, in Queensland, for motor vehicle accidents, there are around 7,000 personal injury claims every year (more than half are in Brisbane). A total of somewhere around $650,000,000 is paid out to claimants each year which suggests the average payout for a personal injury claim may be around $92,857 – $112,369. However, the calculation isn’t that simple. Considering the majority (>70%) of personal injury claims are for minor injuries, and around 15% and 8% are claims for injuries that are moderate and severe respectively, the average injury claim payouts would obviously be much higher the more severe the injury is.

Average Payout$62,400$157,200$368,000$1,053,500$106,600


Workplace Accident Injury Claim Payouts for 2019-20:

In Queensland, there are around 3,000 common law claims for workplace injuries each year. For workplace accidents, data published by Workcover Queensland for the 2019-20 financial year suggests that the average payout for a work injury is approximately $168,836.

Public Liability Injury Claim Payouts for 2019-20:

There are no regular or readily published statistics for public liability claim payouts in Queensland. However the principles that underpin claims for personal injuries made under public liability insurance (such as slips, trips, and falls) are generally the same as damages claims for personal injuries made under other legislation. One could infer from published statistics about workplace injuries and motor vehicle injuries that most payouts for public liability injuries range from around $50,000 to $350,000, and higher for more severe injuries.

TPD Claims

The most common TPD benefit amount in Australia is around $250,000.

In Queensland, the likelihood of a personal injury claim proceeding to a court trial is exceedingly low, with less than a 1% chance. This is primarily due to the substantial costs associated with trials for both parties involved. Instead, a fair settlement is typically reached during a compulsory conference that takes place before the claim is officially filed in court. The term ‘compulsory’ underscores the mandatory requirement for parties to engage in informal negotiations aimed at resolving the matter amicably before they are permitted to present it before a court.

Read more: Why do personal injury claims usually settle out of court?

What happens if you refuse a settlement offer?

The impact of refusing a settlement offer for your personal injury claim depends on the type of offer made to you. For example:

Informal settlement offers

You may receive a settlement offer soon after submitting your claim notice, although an offer could be made at any time. If you refuse an informal offer, not much happens. You can continue pursuing your claim for the appropriate amount. Most of the time, first offers made on an informal basis fall substantially below what a claim is really worth.

Workcover Claims: lump sum offers of compensation

In a workplace injury matter, after receiving your DPI score a lump sum compensation offer is made to you contained in a Workcover Notice of Assessment. Rejecting this offer enables you to either:

  • have your lump sum offer reassessed; or
  • sue for a larger amount (recommended by us only if your employer’s negligence contributed to or caused your injury in some way).

Accepting Workcover’s lump sum offer of compensation contained in the Notice of Assessment is very dangerous as it prevents you from being able to sue for (usually) a much larger amount. The difference is often enormous, even after legal fees.

We strongly recommend that you obtain legal advice before accepting or rejecting an offer of settlement from Workcover.

Mandatory final offers (MFOs)

When you have followed all the pre-court steps in pursuing your claim, you will be presented with a ‘mandatory final offer’ of settlement (or ‘MFO’). This is the respondent’s final and ‘best’ offer to you having regard to all the facts and circumstances presented to them for consideration up to the compulsory conference. You’re also required to issue a MFO representing your final ‘lowest’ offer that you’re willing to accept to resolve your claim.

Not accepting a ‘Mandatory Final Offer’ (MFO) in a personal injury claim can have significant consequences. Firstly, if you reject the MFO and proceed to court, you run the risk of receiving a judgment that might be less favourable than the offered settlement.

Secondly, not accepting the MFO can lead to prolonged litigation, which can be financially and emotionally taxing. Legal proceedings can be costly, and the process may take months or even years to reach a resolution. Additionally, the uncertainty of a court outcome introduces an element of risk, as there are no guarantees of winning or receiving a more favourable judgment.

Finally, after the judgment is handed down, the reasonableness of proceeding to the trial will be considered against the MFO. If the judgment is less favourable than having accepted the MFO, the ‘losing’ party may be ordered to pay for the other sides’ vast costs of the trial (including their own legal expenses).

Therefore, carefully evaluating the MFO and considering its merits, in consultation with legal counsel, is crucial in making an informed decision about whether to accept or reject it.

Formal offers

Formal settlement offers can be sent and received at any time after formal court proceedings are filed.

Ignoring or rejecting a formal offer after formal court proceedings have begun can have similar cost consequences as MFOs. If a party refuses an offer and subsequently obtains a judgment less favourable than that offer, they may be required to cover not only their legal costs but also the opposing party’s legal expenses incurred from the time the offer was made. This cost-shifting mechanism is designed to incentivise parties to seriously consider settlement offers and discourages the pursuit of litigation when a reasonable resolution has been proposed, making it crucial for litigants to carefully assess and respond to formal offers to avoid potentially significant financial liabilities.

Calderbank offers

Calderbank offers can be used at any point in personal injury claims, just as they can be used in other types of civil litigation. A Calderbank offer is a type of settlement offer made by one party to another during legal proceedings, which sets out specific terms for resolving the dispute. If the receiving party rejects a Calderbank offer but later achieves a judgment less favourable than the offer, the court may consider this when awarding costs. This means that the party who rejected the offer may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs from the point when the offer was made.

In personal injury claims, Calderbank offers can be a strategic tool for encouraging settlement and managing the potential cost consequences of litigation. Parties involved in personal injury cases may use these offers to try to reach a reasonable settlement and avoid the risks and expenses associated with a trial. However, considering the other types of offers available to be made in personal injury litigation, the use and effectiveness of Calderbank offers can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and the applicable legal rules in the jurisdiction where the claim is filed. It’s essential to consult with legal counsel experienced in personal injury law to determine the most appropriate strategies for your specific case.

Roche Legal is a reputable personal injury law firm based in Queensland, with offices conveniently located in Brisbane CitySpringwood, and Caloundra.

We handle personal injury claims on a No Win No Fee basis.

By law, claimants represented on a No Win No Fee basis cannot be charged more than 50% of the net settlement. Roche Legal go a step beyond the legislated cost protections, and reduce the maximum possible charge to only 40%, with additional cost protections relating to claim related expenses (known as disbursements) to ensure your financial peace of mind.

Pursuing a personal injury claim often involves significant expenses. Many claims necessitate expert medical reports to substantiate the extent of your injuries, with these specialised medico-legal reports typically ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 each, depending on the nature of your injuries (and sometimes multiple reports may be needed).

Furthermore, there are other disbursements commonly incurred when pursuing a compensation claim, including expenses for expert liability reports, which establish how or why the accident occurred (typically costing between $3,000 and $15,000, depending on the accident type), forensic accountant reports, and barrister fees.

When we propose to handle your compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis, rest assured that you won’t be responsible for our legal fees or any of the funded disbursements in the event the case is unsuccessful. We’re committed to providing accessible and effective legal assistance while prioritising your financial well-being.

Our fees are based on the time and effort our practitioners invest in achieving the best results and compensation for you. Under our standard No Win No Fee offer, you won’t pay a cent until we secure a favourable outcome for your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies as a ‘personal injury case’?

If you have suffered an injury to your body (or mind) because of the actions (or inaction) of another person or organisation, you have a personal injury case and rights to assert.

Examples are:

High value personal injury cases are claims where your injury has required you to have multiple surgeries and significant time away from work. Lower value personal injury cases are ones where you make a full recovery from your injuries.

If you have an injury that prevents you from being able to work, you also may have a personal injury claim to make through your superannuation fund if your policy includes insurance cover for ‘Total Permanent Disablement’ (TPD). This insurance does not require your injuries to be caused by anyone else, and so the process to claim is usually much less demanding.

Can I sue for personal injury?

If you have been injured, you can sue the person or organisation responsible for your injuries. Most of the time, they are insured anyway. If someone else didn’t cause your injury, instead of suing, you can make a claim through your superannuation policy if that policy holds TPD insurance.

To sue the person or organisation responsible (or their insurer) in Queensland, you must serve a claim notice outlining your complaint on the appropriate party. This will commence an informal claims process which is a requirement in Queensland to be able to sue for your injuries. This informal process is designed to keep matters out of court and it works well, as most claims can be resolved without the need for a trial.

If the matter can’t be resolved through the informal process, you can then file a formal court claim.

Do I have to pay tax on my compensation amount?

No. If you are claiming damages through any relevant Act in Queensland, your lawyers will calculate your claim on a ‘net’ basis. This means that no tax is payable on your settlement or court award.

However, if you are making a TPD claim, tax may be payable depending on your circumstances and how you elect to withdraw the insured sum once its paid into your super fund.

Is it worth hiring a personal injury lawyer?

If you are injured, it is almost always worth hiring a personal injury lawyer.

Not only are compensation claims complex, engaging a personal injury lawyer will almost certainly result in a higher compensation amount to you (even after legal fees). Data published by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission suggest that somewhere between 75-80% of victims suffering personal injuries get a lawyer whereas the other 20-25% of victims elect to represent themselves. The statistics show that injured victims receive average payouts of $90,000 if they use a lawyer but only $8,000 if they don’t.

Using a lawyer therefore increases your compensation amount by more than 11x on average.

Even after accounting for legal fees, you are going to be much better off for having engaged a lawyer to represent you to claim for your maximum entitlements.

The main problem with not using a lawyer is that often times an injured person does not understand their entitlements or how to calculate what their claim is actually worth, so they run the risk of accepting a compensation amount that is too low. Once the matter is settled, you can’t make another claim for the same injury down the track when your injuries may start to get worse, so it is important to do it right the first time.

The claims process in Queensland for most injuries uses a non-formal framework designed to keep matters out of court. This framework has critical dates and deadlines to be aware of and certain documents must be formatted in the correct way. Insurers are not there to help you with this, they will use their knowledge of the framework to defeat or minimise your claim. Using a lawyer will help ensure that your rights are protected the entire time. If the matter can’t be resolved informally, your lawyer will also have the knowledge and skill to take the matter through the formal court process.

Once I hire a personal injury lawyer, what do I need to do?

Your primary role is to focus on yourself and your recovery.

Once you are ready to commence the legal process, you will need to sign a host of documents to allow your lawyer to obtain information about your medical history and employment history. This can often be completed by post or email so that you don’t need to come into the office each time.

Your personal injury lawyer will have many questions for you to answer and requires you to recount the incident in detail. Your role is to simply answer the questions to the best of your ability to enable your lawyer to prepare your claim notice for your confirmation.

To support your claim, your lawyer will contact witnesses and organise for you to attend independent medico-legal assessments. Your role is simply to attend the examination.

You should always keep your lawyer informed of any developments in your recovery – such as new referrals to doctors, any planned surgical procedures, and any return-to-work attempts (successful or otherwise).

How much do personal injury lawyers charge?

Most personal injury lawyers in Brisbane charge around $400-500/hr, sometimes higher. On top of this, most firms charge a 25% uplift on the hourly rates if you engage them on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. Despite the high hourly rates and ordinary uplift charge, Queensland law firms are required to limit their fees to charge no more than 50% of the net personal injury claim payout amount (only when they act on a No Win No Fee basis). This cost protection is known as the ‘50/50 rule’ (Source).

Queensland personal injury lawyers are also not allowed to charge a fixed percentage of the payout they achieve for you, so most firms charge by the hour. If the total hours charged exceeds 50% of the payout amount, the law firm is required to discount their fees.

Some law firms, such as Roche Legal offer even better protection than the 50/50 rule by applying our own fee cap of 40% rather than 50% to ensure that the client always walks away with more than the lawyer.

A large portion of the legal fees charged by your lawyer can often be claimed from the other side.

When should I contact a personal injury lawyer?

It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. This is because various important time limits apply to claims for personal injuries in Queensland (depending on the type of injury). If you miss a deadline by even 1 day, you may be prevented from ever bringing a valid claim.

A key task for a personal injury lawyer is to identify the time limits that apply to your potential claim during the first consultation.

Can I get Legal Aid for a personal injury claim?

Legal Aid Queensland does not give legal advice or provide representation for personal injury claims.

Will I regret not making a personal injury claim?

Roche Legal frequently receives enquiries from people wanting to make claims for personal injuries sustained more than 3 years ago. When we advise that Queensland laws are very strict and that in most circumstances, claims cannot be made after 3 years, the caller often expresses regret and frustration for not having acted sooner.

If you are currently injured but you aren’t sure whether you should make a claim, give Roche Legal a call for free initial advice.

This commentary is published by Roche Legal for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as specific advice. The content relates to Queensland law only and is subject to change over time. You should seek legal advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any decision.