Personal injury law in New South Wales is mainly dealt with under the Civil Liability Act 2002. While negligence laws developed from Australian case law (also referred to as common law), NSW courts must follow the Civil Liability Act 2002 for any claims lodged after 20 March 2002.
Under the Civil Liability Act 2002, personal injury law includes the following:
- Car accidents, which are also regulated under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999;
- Medical negligence;
- Public and product liability, including recreational and sporting activities; and
- Serious injuries.
While superannuation insurance claims such as Total and Permanent Disability generally fall under personal injury legal practice, these types of claims do not fall under the Civil Liability Act 2002. Instead, they are claims made under a cross-section of laws between contracts and trusts law. However, superannuation insurance claims for those in NSW should be lodged in New South Wales’ courts.
Workers compensation claims in NSW are regulated under the Workers Compensation Act 1987, the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998, the Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act 1987, and the Workers Compensation Regulation 2016.
More information about negligence in NSW can be read in our dedicated legal article, Negligence in New South Wales.
Car and motor vehicle accidents
Claims for compensation over injuries sustained as a driver, passenger and pedestrian are covered under NSW’s laws. Depending on whether you were at fault or not or only partly at fault will affect the rights you have for compensation.
New South Wales recently overhauled the state’s compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance (known as the Green Slip) under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 to allow those involved in a crash to claim limited compensation depending on whether or not they were at fault.
Medical negligence claim
Medical negligence in NSW can be a complex area of law. The process involves demonstrating that a medical professional or service neglected to practice an acceptable standard of medical care which resulted in significant injury. There are also strict time limits on making a claim as well as thresholds and caps on compensation. For this reason, it is important to discuss with a lawyer your rights and options if you believe you have a claim.
Public and product liability
Public liability is the area of personal injury legal practice which covers injury sustained in a public area at the fault of someone else. It involves establishing negligence through demonstrating that a person had owed the injured party a duty of care, that duty was breached and the result was the injury. Often, public liability claims are made against the at-fault party’s insurance. Time limits, caps and thresholds apply under the Civil Liability Act 2002.
Product liability is similar to public liability, except it relates to claims for compensation as a result of injuries sustained from faulty products. Importantly, the Civil Liability Act 2002 does not limit the Australian Consumer Law (under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) for claims regarding faulty products. However, claims for compensation arising from personal injury suffered from faulty products are limited by the Civil Liability Act 2002.
Injuries suffered while playing a club sport or even being a spectator are also claimable under the Civil Liability Act 2002. In some cases, where an injury was sustained while playing sport professionally, a workers compensation claim may also be available.
Serious injuries are injuries which change lives. They are injuries which have been caused at the fault of someone else and are claims that often overlap with other types of personal injury claims. The circumstances surrounding how the injury was suffered will determine whether the Civil Liability Act 2002 applies.
While outside of the operation of the Civil Liability Act 2002, workers compensation claims in NSW fall under the practice of personal injury law. This area of law covers business and employer obligations to protect their workers against injury by following work health and safety regulations.
Recent amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Workers Compensation Regulation 2016 mean that law firms can now provide information regarding workers compensation claims. Previous to 16 December 2016, law firms were prohibited from providing this kind of information.
Under the NSW workers compensation legislative regime, limits on claims apply. This is why it is important to seek specific legal advice if you or someone you know may have a workers compensation claim as a result of an injury.