Other Injuries (Public Liability Claims)

If you have suffered an injury in a public place, at someone else’s home, worksite, business or venue and the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to bring a public liability injury claim against that person or company.

The types of accidents and injuries that become public liability claims can include:

  • Injuries suffered on a work site whilst working as an independent contractor / subcontractor
  • Slip, trip and fall accidents in private or public places
  • Injuries caused by defective equipment or faulty products
  • Accidents in private buildings
  • Accidents at private residences or rental premises
  • Boat accidents, jet ski accidents and watersport accidents
  • Accidents at public parks, playgrounds and leisure centres
  • Accidents at school
  • Injuries caused by animals
  • Sporting injuries
  • Accidents at recreational activity venues
  • Accidents at amusement parks and venues
  • Aviation and airline accidents
  • Physical and sexual assaults
  • Psychological injuries suffered as a result of serious injury or death of another

Many of these incidents can lead to serious injuries such as catastrophic spinal injuries, head and brain injuries, whiplash and neck injuries, fractures, soft tissue injuries, psychological injuries and even death.  Claims can sometimes also be brought by loved ones for nervous shock (psychiatric injury), loss of dependency and loss of services where their family member has been seriously injured or died as a result of the accident.

How do public liability injury claims work?

Most homeowners, companies and associations will take out public liability insurance over their home, school, worksite, business or venue, in order to protect themselves financially in case something goes wrong. Most boat and jet ski insurance policies and travel insurance policies also contain public liability insurance. Councils and government departments also have public liability cover.  When you are injured on public property or at someone else’s home, worksite, business or venue as a result of the negligence of someone else (who is not otherwise covered by CTP Insurance or workers’ compensation insurance), their public liability insurance will usually cover them for any injury claims made against them.

Even if you are injured whilst working, you may also be entitled to bring a public liability claim, if your injury was caused by the negligence of someone other than your employer (or a co-worker employed by the same company). If you are employed (or are considered to be a worker under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld)) you would be able to lodge a statutory workers’ compensation claim but would then also be able to bring a public liability claim against the company that caused your work accident.

Public liability insurance does not, however, cover every accident. The injured person has to show that there was some negligence on the part of the person or entity responsible for the accident.  If you fall over your own feet and are injured on someone else’s property, then you will not covered by their public liability insurance.

There are also some exclusions to public liability insurance policies. For example, if you are injured at home as a result of the negligence of another member of your household, then you are normally not covered by your home and contents public liability insurance.  If, however, someone who does not normally live with you (eg a friend or a cousin) comes on to your property and is injured as a result of your negligence, then they would be able to bring a public liability claim against you and you would be covered by your home and contents insurance.  All you would need to do is pay the small excess on your policy and the insurer then takes over the claim.

What is the process?

In Queensland, public liability claims are governed by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) and the Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld).

A claim is commenced by serving a Form 1 Notice of Claim on the party responsible for the accident (who is then called “the Respondent”).

This is how an average public liability claim usually proceeds:

  • Accident occurs;
  • Within 1 month of accident: You serve a Form 1 Part 1 Notice of Claim on the Respondent;
  • The Respondent then passes the Notice of Claim on to their professional indemnity insurer;
  • 2 months post-accident: The Respondent’s professional indemnity insurer acknowledges claim;
  • 4 months post-accident: You serve a Form 1 Part 2 Notice of Claim on the Respondent;
  • 8 months post-accident: The Respondent’s professional indemnity insurer advises their position on liability (ie whether they accept that the Respondent caused or contributed to the accident);
  • 12 months post-accident: Your injuries usually stabilise and medicolegal appointments (for you and the insurer) can then take place, to assess the nature and extent of any ongoing pain and restriction you have as a result of your injuries;
  • 16 months post-accident: Once all medicolegal specialists’ reports have been received, an offer of settlement is formulated;
  • 18 months post-accident: Compulsory settlement conference is held between the parties (and around 7 out of 10 matters resolve at this stage);

If the claim fails to resolve at the compulsory conference:

  • 19 months post-accident: Court proceedings are commenced;
  • 21 months post-accident: Court documents are exchanged between the parties;
  • 23 months post-accident: A mediation is held between the parties (and 9 out 10 matters resolve at this stage);

If the claim fails to resolve at the mediation:

  • 24 months post-accident: The parties start preparing for trial (whilst often continuing to negotiate); and
  • 30 months post-accident: If all other negotiations fail, the matter proceeds to trial.

What can you claim?

The following heads of damage can be claimed in a public liability claim:

  • pain and suffering, loss of amenities and loss of enjoyment of life
  • past lost income
  • past out of pocket expenses (eg treatment, rehabilitation, medication, transportation, aids, appliances, prosthesis, home modifications, transport modifications, education and training)
  • past paid services (eg attendant care and support services, cleaning, cooking, gardening, housekeeping, mowing, etc), provided these services were not being provided prior to your injury
  • past gratuitous (unpaid) services provided by family and friends, if those services are provided for at least six (6) hours per week for a minimum of six (6) months, provided those services were not being provided prior to your injury
  • interest on any past lost income, expenses or paid services
  • future potential loss of income/ earning capacity
  • future potential out-of-pocket expenses
  • future potential paid services
  • future potential (unpaid) gratuitous services provided by family and friends

So, what is required of you during the claim process?

You can live your life normally and we will take the pressure off you by handling the vast majority of your claim.  What we will need from you might include the following:

  • You will need to attend an initial appointment to provide us with relevant information about the incident;
  • You will have to help us finalise any claim form, to ensure that we get your story straight, and then sign that claim form;
  • You will need to attend medicolegal appointments for us and the insurer;
  • You will need to provide us with copies of any relevant documents that might be required including receipts (for treatment etc), tax documents and an impact statement (setting out how your injuries have affected you);
  • You will need to approve any offer of settlement that we put together on your behalf; and
  • You will have to attend a compulsory settlement conference to provide us with any information we need and instructions regarding any offers of settlement. You will not be required to answer questions from the other side during the conference. (70% of claims resolve at this stage)

If the claim fails to resolve at the compulsory conference:

  • You will need to attend a mediation to provide us with any further information we need and instructions regarding any offers of settlement. (90% of claims resolve by this stage)
  • You will not be required to answer questions from the other side during the mediation.

If the claim fails to resolve at the mediation:

  • You will need to provide us with instructions in relation to any further offers of settlement that are forthcoming or that we wish to make prior to trial;
  • You will need to attend court and give evidence as a witness if the matter proceeds to trial. (less than 2% of personal injury claims proceed to trial)

How can we help?

We will assess the accident that led to your injury and will provide you with our expert opinion as to your prospects of success in relation to the public liability claim. If we consider you to have reasonable prospects of success, and that your claim is economically viable, then we will agree to act on your behalf on a “no win no fee” basis.

We will then arrange to have your claim served on the Respondent as soon as possible.  Set out below is a detailed list of what we would discuss during your free initial consultation.

Don’t delay! Very strict time limits apply with respect to public liability claims. Speak with one of our expert personal injury lawyers today. We offer free initial advice. Click here for more information on how we charge.

FAQs

The short answer is “as soon as possible”. This is so we can:

  • assist you with lodging the claim;
  • make sure that your version of events surrounding the accident is accurate and comprehensive;
  • give you advice in relation to your rights and obligations;
  • ensure that you are telling the professional indemnity insurer and the doctors the whole story;
  • ensure that your doctor notes down in your medical records all injuries that you have suffered, no matter how minor;
  • ensure that the professional indemnity insurer is aware of all the injuries you have sustained; and
  • start compiling the evidence we need in order to put an offer of settlement together for you once your injuries are stable and stationary.

These are the steps you should take to lodge a claim if you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence:

  1. Attend upon a doctor as soon as possible (if you haven’t already done that) to report all injuries and symptoms you have suffered (no matter how insignificant they seem).
  2. Ask your doctor to provide you with referrals for any treatment you need, including x-rays or other scans, physiotherapy, specialist reviews, etc and start having that treatment. You will have to pay for this yourself, as professional indemnity insurers are not obliged to pay for treatment upfront. Keep your receipts!
  3. Contact one of our offices to make a time for one of our expert personal injury lawyers to see you.  If it is easier for you, we will come to the hospital or your home or we are happy to meet at a nearby coffee shop.
  4. At our initial consultation, we will complete a Form 1 Part 1 Notice of Claim with you.
  5. We will then serve the Form 1 Part 1 Notice of Claim on the individual or company responsible for your injuries (ie the Respondent) and ask them to pass the claim on to their professional indemnity insurer.
  6. The professional indemnity insurer will then respond to your claim and start communicating with us.

You have one (1) month from the date you instruct a lawyer to act on your behalf or nine (9) months from the date of accident, whichever is the earlier, to serve a Form 1 Part 1 Notice of Claim on the individual or company responsible for your injuries (ie the Respondent).

You can still serve a Form 1 Part 1 Notice of Claim on the Respondent after the nine (9) month timeframe up to three (3) years after the date of accident but you have to provide a reasonable excuse for the delay.

You will not be able to pursue a claim against the Respondent if the claim is brought more than three (3) years after the accident.

There are some very limited exceptions to the three (3) year rule, so we would recommend you speak with one of our expert personal injury lawyers to discuss your options in that regard, where applicable.

Provided the accident was not your own fault, or not entirely your fault, you will be able to make a claim.  You cannot claim if the accident was your fault.

Your claim will be against the individual or company that caused or significantly contributed to the accident (ie the Respondent). Negligence is alleged against the Respondent but their professional indemnity insurer then takes over the conduct of the matter.

Most homeowners have home and contents insurance, which has public liability insurance attached to that. Most boats, jetskis and the like also have public liability insurance.

Your family member or friend will only have to pay the (usually quite small) excess on their insurance policy and the professional indemnity insurer then takes over the claim. Sometimes no excess is payable at all.

Of course, the professional indemnity insurer will want a statement from your family member or friend about what happened but that would be it. In the unlikely event that the matter was to proceed to trial, they may also be called upon to give evidence if liability is in dispute (ie there is some doubt as to who caused the accident).

Exceptions to the rule:

Your friend’s public liability insurance may not cover them if, for example:

  1. Your family member or friend was using a vehicle, machinery, equipment or property without the owner’s authority or without legal justification or excuse for using it.
  2. Your family member or friend intended to harm you or some other person (resulting in your injury).
  3. Your family member or friend was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the accident and their intoxication caused or contributed to the accident.

The types of injuries that you can claim for include the following:

  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and acquired brain injuries (ABI)
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Spinal cord injuries, including tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia) and paraplegia
  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Amputations
  • Catastrophic injuries
  • Neurological injuries
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Cauda equina injuries
  • Facial and jaw injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Elbow injuries
  • Hand, wrist and finger injuries
  • Pelvis and hip injuries
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Abdominal injuries
  • Hernias
  • Groin injuries
  • Leg and thigh injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Toe injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Burns
  • Cuts, lacerations and bruises
  • Chemical injuries
  • Scarring
  • Chronic pain disorder
  • Psychiatric and psychological injuries including depression, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, anxiety, traffic phobia, pain disorder
  • Nervous shock injuries
  • Fatal injuries / death
  • Aggravation of pre-existing injuries
  • Aggravation of pre-existing degeneration

Every case is different and the amount of compensation or damages payable to you will depend on many things, including:

  • How you recover from your injuries
  • The medical evidence
  • Your age
  • What other pre-existing injuries or conditions you had
  • What permanent restrictions you have, particularly with respect to your work capacity
  • What your earning capacity was like prior to the accident, compared to what your earning capacity now looks like
  • How much care and support you have needed in the past and how much you are likely to require in the future
  • How much ongoing treatment and medication you need

Many public liability injury claims settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

This depends on how much work is done. For more information on how we charge, click here.

Costs are only payable to the insurer if you proceed to trial and lose or receive a judgement for less than what the professional indemnity insurer has previously offered to you.

Less than 2% of claims actually proceed to trial, so there is almost no chance of you having to pay the insurer’s costs.

Yes, if you were injured whilst working and your injury was caused or contributed to by someone other than your employer, then you will be able to make a public liability injury claim also.

In that case, WorkCover Queensland would pay for any reasonable and necessary treatment and rehabilitation as you go, as well as weekly benefits for lost wages and they will offer you a lump sum for any permanent impairment you have as a result of your work related injury.

As a part of the offer of settlement that we make on your behalf, we claim from the professional indemnity insurer what WorkCover has paid and then refund it to WorkCover upon settlement of your claim. Given that we are claiming for something that you have already received the benefit of, you do not lose anything in that regard.

Yes but when we put your offer of settlement together we claim what WorkCover has paid from the professional indemnity insurer and that amount is then refunded to WorkCover upon settlement of your claim. Given that we are claiming for something that you have already received the benefit of, you do not lose anything in that regard.

No. At this stage, the Queensland Government has only introduced legislation enabling individuals who have suffered serious personal injury at work or in a motor vehicle accident to qualify for NIIS benefits.

You may, however, be entitled to make a claim under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Yes, if you are between the ages of 7 and 65 when making the application for those benefits. 

The NDIS provides the following benefits:

  • daily personal activities needs
  • transport to enable participation in community, social, economic and daily life activities
  • workplace help to allow a participant to successfully get or keep employment in the open or supported labour market
  • therapeutic supports including behaviour support
  • help with household tasks to allow the participant to maintain their home and home environment
  • help to a participant by skilled personnel in aids or equipment assessment, setup and training
  • home modification design and construction
  • mobility equipment
  • vehicle modifications

The NDIS will NOT fund a support that is:

  • the responsibility of another government system or community service (eg something funded by NIISQ)
  • not related to a person’s disability
  • relates to day-to-day living costs that are not related to a participants support needs
  • is likely to cause harm to the participant or pose a risk to others

Yes but when we put your offer of settlement together we claim what the NDIS has paid from the professional indemnity insurer and that amount is then refunded to the NDIS upon settlement of your claim. Given that we are claiming for something that you have already received the benefit of, you do not lose anything in that regard.

In Australia, you are not taxed on any settlement monies that you receive from your personal injury claim. If, however, you invest that money and earn interest or a have a capital gain from that investment, then tax may be payable on that interest or capital gain. You should seek financial and/or accounting advice about this where applicable.

During your free initial consultation, we will:

*East Coast Lawyers is led by Accredited Specialists; Sean Delpopolo, Helen Ashton.

Our Promise To You:

*Strict time limits apply when making a claim. Do not delay.

Need some advice? Contact us today.

Managing Director

Sean Delpopolo

Sean Delpopolo

Sean is an expert in compensation claims and has been recognised in his field as a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist.

He has been running compensation claims in Queensland for over 25 years and specialises in work related claims, motor vehicle claims, public liability claims and total and permanent disability claims. He has been voted by his peers to be one of the best compensation lawyers in Queensland.*

Sean started the firm in 2004 and it has gone from strength to strength on the background of outstanding service, incredible results and charging really fair fees.

With an innate sense of fairness and justice, this motivates Sean and his team to do everything they can to ensure that the results they achieve for their clients is something that they can all be proud of. In Sean’s mind, the interests of the firm’s clients come first, before anything else, and this value has flowed on through to the entire team.

As a father of two daughters, Sean understands that his clients’ compensation claims can make a huge difference to their lives and the lives of those around them. This is why he has made it his life’s work to fight for the “little guy” to assist them with obtaining the compensation they deserve.

Director

Helen Ashton

Helen Ashton

Helen Ashton is an experienced and skilled lawyer who fights every day to achieve what is right for her clients.

As an accredited specialist, having been awarded the highest achiever award for the course in 2015, Helen has a high level of knowledge and technical expertise.

Admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2001, Helen has extensive experience in running all types of claims.

Helen has a friendly and approachable personality and strives to ensure that her clients are kept well informed and are provided with quality and practical legal advice.

As a mother of three young children, Helen understands the impact events can have on a family unit and works proactively to achieve the right result for her clients in the shortest possible timeframe.

Helen has the ability and the experience to assist clients’ with a wide variety of claims, including claims with a high level of complexity and those that have had catastrophic consequences.

Special Counsel

Barry Mcgee

Barry has always loved a spirited debate, and, with over 20 years specialising exclusively in litigation, his passion, skill, and ability to assist his clients is well known throughout the Queensland profession.

Barry’s legal career began in his native Scotland, where he qualified as a Solicitor in 1998. Upon qualifying, he worked for a boutique practice, and then a top-tier national firm, representing a number of different insurers across a variety of industries. With years of working for insurers under his belt, Barry is able to see matters through the eyes of his legal opponents. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say!

He was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2007. In Australia, he commenced working for a large national firm, where he spent 15 years. He was made a Partner of the firm in 2011 and spent 11 years as the firm’s dedicated in-house Special Counsel. As Special Counsel, Barry provided expert advocacy and strategical advice and assistance to the qualified lawyers and clients of the firm alike.

Barry has significant and extensive experience across a wide variety of claims. He is compassionate, personable and straightforward, with a keen sense of what is fair and just, and a reputation for not settling for anything less than his client deserves.

Outside of work he enjoys surfing, the outdoors, music and spending time with his wife and 3 young children.

Special Counsel

Nickelle Morris

Nickelle has been practising exclusively in compensation litigation for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in catastrophic claims and fatality claims across all practice areas.

Nickelle prides herself on being a technical, yet practical and compassionate lawyer. Nickelle takes her time to understand her client’s situations and to ensure that they have an understanding of their rights and entitlements. Nickelle is a tenacious and passionate advocate for her clients and is dedicated in being proactive in ensuring client’s needs are met and achieving the best outcome for clients.

Nickelle was a finalist in the Special Counsel of the Year for Australian Law Awards in 2019.

Outside of work, Nickelle is a mother of two children and is a member on a number of committees both within the legal industry and community.

Special Counsel

Charlotte Evans

Charlotte has practised solely in compensation litigation for over 20 years.

She is committed to fighting for the rights of plaintiffs and helping her clients through the legal maze, to achieve outcomes that put people back in control of their lives. She has had experience in taking a number of matters to Trial and winning hard fought cases for her clients and she does not shy away from a challenge.

Charlotte has a friendly and approachable personality and strives to cut through the legal jargon to make the process understandable for her clients whilst ensuring that her clients are also kept well informed throughout their claim.

Out of the office Charlotte is a busy Mum, who now enjoys the privileges of living in beautiful Queensland and making the most of all it has to offer.