If you’ve been injured in an accident in a public place, private residence or host employment, you may be considering whether you are entitled to make a public liability claim. But what is a public liability claim and how do these claims work?
In this article, we address many of the frequently asked questions we receive about public liability claims.
Please note that this article is not legal advice. It contains general information about making a public liability claim in Queensland. For legal advice particular circumstances, please contact Denning Insurance Law about your accident.
What is a public liability claim?
The term “public liability claim” is a generic description used for a broad range of claims for accidents that happen in a public or private place. In Queensland, these claims are generally regulated by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) (the PIPA).
What is the public liability claim time limit in Qld?
Strict time limits apply in public liability claims and it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to protect your interests.
Under the PIPA a claim should be commenced within the earlier of:
If a claim is commenced outside of these timeframes, the individual must provide a reasonable excuse for their delay.
How long do you have to make a public liability claim?
A general limitation period of three (3) years also applies in public liability claims. So, within three (3) years of the date of the event, a claim must be started in the Court.
Can I claim for an accident after three (3) years?
If you do not commence a claim within three (3) years you may be forever prevented from pursing a claim for damages. However, this is not always the case, so you should seek urgent legal advice in the event that your limitation period is approaching or, if it has expired.
If the accident happened when you were under 18 or you have been under a legal disability for a period of time since the accident, your claim may still be within time. There are other limited circumstances in which a claim can be made outside of the limitation period. It is important to obtain legal advice from a public liability lawyer particular to your circumstances as soon as possible. Moreover, urgent steps may need to be taken to preserve your rights.
How do I make a public liability claim?
In Queensland, a public liability claim is generally started by giving a Notice of Claim form to the person or organisation responsible for the incident.
What is the public liability claim process?
This is a general guide to the steps that occur in a public liability claim in Queensland. Please note that every claim is diﬀerent and some steps occur within a shorter or longer timeframe.
- Serve a Part 1 Notice of Claim Form within one (1) month of instructing a lawyer to act or within nine (9) months of the date of the incident.
- The Respondent provides a response to the Notice of Claim within 14 days.
- Serve a Part 2 Notice of Claim Form within two (2) months after Step 2.
- The parties request and provide particulars within three (3) to six (6) months after Step 2.
- The Respondent provides a Liability Response within six (6) months of Step 2.
- The parties arrange independent medical examinations within six (6) to 12 months of Step 1.
- The parties hold a Compulsory Conference within 12 to 18 months of Step 1.
- Begin Court proceedings if necessary within 60 days of Step 7.
Examples of public liability accidents
Some common examples of the types of accidents in public liability claims occur include:
|1||Host employment||When an individual works for a labour hire employer and is placed in host employment. The host employer may be the respondent to an injury claim|
|2||Public Transport||For instance, at: an airport; a train station or on a train; or, at a bus station or on a bus|
|3||Public place||For example: in a supermarket; an amusement park; a hospital; or a carpark|
|4||Private property||This could be at a hotel, a private home, a rental property or holiday house|
|5||Marine casualty||That is, an accident on a private vessel; a commercial vessel; a gangway; a jet ski; as a diver; or, as a swimmer|
|6||Public authority||A claim against a local or state authority for a road accident, park, jetty or other accident in a public place for which the authority is responsible|
|7||School||A claim against an educational institution arising out of personal injuries suffered by an individual|
Can you sue if you fall over in a store?
It depends on the cause of your fall and what the store could have done to have prevented your fall. Other facts will also be relevant. For example, whether you were distracted and what footwear you were wearing at the time.
If you have a fall in a store, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer in the State or Territory in which the fall occurred.
Can you sue the council for tripping on a public footpath?
Claims against local councils are generally difficult. In Queensland, it is necessary for an individual to prove a number of elements in a case.
First, an individual must establish what caused their trip. Second, they must show that a reasonable council in the position of the council that they are suing would have taken steps to have prevented the trip. And third, they usually need to show that the council was on notice of the issue which caused their injury.
A Court will take into account the council’s financial and other resources relevant to addressing the risk that you faced. The council’s compliance with its own general procedures and applicable standards will also be considered.
How much do you get for a slip and fall or public liability case?
The amounts that an individual can recover in a public liability claim, such as a slip and fall case, depends upon how the person is aﬀected by their injuries. Examples of the damages which are claimed in these cases include:
|Head of damage||Description and any limit on damages|
|General damages (pain and suffering)||The current statutory maximum is $400,300.|
|Special damages||Out of pocket expenses incurred and amounts paid to or on behalf of the person because of their injuries (e.g. Medicare benefits). No prescribed limit.|
|Care||To claim for care that is provided at no cost, an injured person must prove that they received a minimum of six (6) hours per week for a period of at least six (6) months.|
|Past and future loss of earnings||The income that the individual has lost and may continue to lose due to their injuries. As at 1 July 2021, individuals cannot recover more than approximately $4,846 (g) per week for the whole of the period of loss.|
|Interest||There are statutory and common law limits upon the rates of interest that can be claimed.|
|Lost superannuation||Claimed on lost superannuation benefits.|
|Legal costs||Costs are recoverable subject to limits under the legislation. The costs which can be recovered vary depending upon several factors such as the damages recovered and the point at which a claim is resolved.|
No two (2) claims are the same. The damages which one person may recover will be diﬀerent from someone who has the same injuries and a very diﬀerent lifestyle, age, medical history, and occupation. Contact us on (07) 3067 3025 to book an appointment for advice regarding your potential entitlements in a public liability claim.
Public liability payout amounts
The below table provides a sample of the public liability claim payout amounts from across Australia Courts in 2022:
|Case name||Injuries||Public liability payout amount|
|Tapp v Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Limited  HCA 11||Serious spinal injuries||$6.75M|
|Southon v Ray  NSWDC 32||Psychological injuries, lower back injury, soft tissue injuries, gynaecological complaint||$163,786|
|Lewis v Doyle  NSWSC 92||Psychological injuries||$1.353M|
|Newport v Li & Anor  NSWDC 8||Hip and knee injuries||$252,376|
|Ciesla v Mosman Bay Construction Pty Ltd (in liq)  WADC 3||Bilateral wrist injuries, elbow and knee injuries||$928,787|
Do I need a lawyer to make a claim?
Strictly speaking, no. You do not need a solicitor to make a public liability claim. However, these claims can be very complex in Qld and injured individuals should be legally represented. Finding a personal injury lawyer in Brisbane who handles public liability cases involves research and consultations.
A mistake made on the claim in its early stages can carry through the matter. For example, a person who is self-represented may:
What if the responsible party offers to pay my medical expenses?
We sometimes hear from individuals who have been offered an amount of money to assist them with their medical expenses, before they are legally represented.
Firstly, care should be taken not to agree to accept any amount in full and final satisfaction of a claim, without first contacting a personal injury lawyer. Secondly, common law damages are significantly higher than the short term advantage of getting a couple of physio appointments funded.
How long does a public liability personal injury claim take to settle?
The length of a public liability claim varies from claim to claim because the time to complete the case depends upon several factors. However, in our experience, claims generally run for between 12 months and three (3) years. Factors which can aﬀect how long a public liability claim takes to resolve include:
Who pays public liability compensation?
If a respondent to a claim was insured, their public liability insurer pays the damages and costs that the respondent is legally liable to pay.
What if the respondent is uninsured for the public liability claim?
If the other party is or may be uninsured, your solicitor will consider whether it is worthwhile proceeding with the claim and if not, the claim may be abandoned or withdrawn.
What does public liability insurance cover?
A public liability policy covers an insured for their legal liability for a number of amounts, subject to the policy limits and terms. First, the insurance covers the insured for damages that they are liable to pay to the injured person. Second, the cover extends to legal costs they are liable to pay the injured individual. Third, the insurer will pay for and conduct the defence of the claim.
If a respondent to the claim is insured, their public liability insurer will “stand in their shoes” and defend the claim. Our breadth of experience as insurance and personal injury lawyers means that we can advise clients about whether a respondent is likely to hold insurance.
Contact a Brisbane public liability compensation lawyer
If you’re looking for a Brisbane personal injury lawyer that handles public liability claims, Denning Insurance Law acts on behalf of injured individuals in public liability claims. If you have been injured, we oﬀer a FREE initial consultation to discuss: