In this information sheet we explain what public liability is, what a claim involves, the type of compensation available and time limits for making a claim.
Public liability claims involve injuries to people in a public place as a result of negligence. Injuries in shopping centres, the school yard, cafes and restaurants are examples of some of the most frequently investigated claims.
To be successful in a public liability claim, it needs to be established that the person or entity responsible for causing the accident owed you a duty of care. For instance, shopping centres owe customers a duty of care to ensure the centre is free from foreseeable risks of harm. Whether a duty of care applies is determined on a case by case basis as the circumstances in every public liability claim are unique. However, three elements must be established in all cases in order for the claim to be successful:
1. That the person or entity at fault owed you a duty of care.
2. The person or entity breached that duty of care.
3. As a result of the breach, you suffered injury and loss.
The usual process in a public liability claim involves:
1. You tell us about the matter and your injuries.
2. We investigate the claim – if necessary, this may include conducting a site inspection, obtaining your clinical notes from your treating medical practitioners, and sometimes obtaining expert liability reports.
3. If it appears your matters has reasonable prospects of success, that is we believe we can obtain a successful outcome for you (payment of money), we will generally attempt to resolve the matter with the person/entity at fault before commencing proceedings.
4. If the matter does not resolve at that stage, proceedings will be commenced in Court.
5. The parties will be required to participate in settlement negotiations before the matter is listed for hearing before a Judge – most matters settle at this stage.
6. If settlement negotiations are not successful, your matter will be listed for hearing in Court where a Judge generally makes various decisions including whether a duty of care was owed to you, whether that duty of care was breached, whether your injuries were caused by that breach, and how much money you should be awarded.
Typical public liability financial awards, subject to meeting certain legislative thresholds, include a lump sum payment for your past and future medical expenses, loss of income if you have been unable to work or your work capacity may be reduced in future (including superannuation), non-economic loss (such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and disfigurement) and a sum for the personal care and domestic help you required or continue to need as a result of the accident.
Remember time limits apply in public liability cases and you should obtain legal advice as soon as possible. You have 3 years to file in Court from the date of injury, which is why your case needs to be prepared well in advance to ensure all pre court settlement options have been exhausted and you can still file in Court before the time limit expires.
If you would have suffered an injury and would like to know more about making a public liability claim, our team of expert personal injury lawyers would be pleased to meet with you in a free consultation to advise you about your options. You can either call us on (02) 4050 0330 or book an appointment online.