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Public Liability (Qld)

Updated on Oct 04, 2023 5 min read 289 views Copy Link

Nicola Bowes

Published in Oct 24, 2022 Updated on Oct 04, 2023 5 min read 289 views

Public Liability (Qld)

In Queensland, a person who is injured in a public place, or a privately-owned place visited by the public, can make a liability claim under the provisions of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. This page addresses many of the frequently asked questions about public liability claims in Queensland.

Can I make a public liability claim?

A public liability claim is appropriate if someone is injured in a place open to the public, such as a park, shopping centre or sports venue. For example, a person might break their leg after tripping into an open manhole on a public street. Other examples of the type of accidents that are relevant include when someone is hurt:

  • At a bus station or on a train;
  • In a supermarket or hospital;
  • At a hotel, private home or holiday house; or
  • Aboard a private boat or commercial vessel.

To make a public liability claim, a plaintiff must prove the following :

  • They were injured in a public place in Queensland;
  • The person or organisation in charge of the space had a duty of care;
  • That person or organisation was negligent in their duty and caused the plaintiff’s injury;
  • The plaintiff can identify the person or organisation at fault; and
  • The claim is made within the statutory time limit.

What is not public liability?

A person is not able to make a public liability claim if they are injured in a non-public environment, such as in a private residence. In that case, a person may have a claim for negligence under the Civil Liability Act 2003. When an injury is sustained at work or because of work, the appropriate action is a claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. Similarly, a personal injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident should be dealt with through the Compulsory Third Party Insurance Scheme.

What evidence do I need to make a public liability claim?

A plaintiff needs evidence to support a public liability claim in Queensland. The categories of evidence that are relevant in a public liability claim include:

  1. Financial information to support a claim of economic loss from the injury (such as Income Tax Returns and payslips);
  2. Evidence to show that the person or organisation with the duty of care failed to implement reasonable measures to prevent harm to the public (for example, placing warning signs about safety hazards, and maintaining equipment in public areas); and
  3. Medical evidence (such as physician notes, physiotherapist’s treatment plan and an independent medical-legal report).

A plaintiff needs to provide the respondent with any medical documentation before the deadline. The respondent has the right to have a plaintiff examined by one of their own experts.

What is the public liability claim process?

Every public liability claim is unique, and therefore, the claims process will differ. However, a public liability claim generally follows the process below:

  1. The applicant serves a Notice of Claim Form on the respondent.
  2. The respondent answers the Notice of Claim within 14 days.
  3. In the subsequent two months, the applicant prepares a Part two Notice of Claim Form detailing the impact of the nature of the injury, treatment received or required, and impact on the plaintiff’s life.
  4. The parties provide particulars within three to six months.
  5. The respondent prepares a Liability Response within six months of step two.
  6. The parties organise independent medical examinations within six to 12 months of step one.
  7. The parties attend a Compulsory Conference within 12 to 18 months of step one.
  8. The parties commence court proceedings within 60 days of step 7.

Compulsory conference

As outlined in step 7, a claimant in a public liability case must attend a compulsory conference with the respondent to try and negotiate a settlement. The aim of this conference is to resolve the legal dispute before the matter escalates to a court hearing. Should the claimant accept an offer at this conference, they cannot pursue the claim any further. If the claim is not resolved at the compulsory conference stage, then the matter may proceed to a court hearing.

How long do I have to make a public liability claim?

There are strict deadlines to make a public liability claim in Queensland. Under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act, notification for pre-court proceedings must be made within nine months of the incident date, or within one month of the plaintiff instructing a lawyer to act (whichever is earlier). A claimant may give notification outside this time frame as long as there is a reasonable excuse for the delay.

Critically, there is a three-year period of limitation for public liability claims in Queensland. It is much harder to obtain an extension on the three-year deadline, and ignorance of the deadline is not an excuse. However, an injured person can apply for an extension in limited circumstances. For example, someone might have an accident that seems insignificant, but find after the limitation period expires that their injury has worsened.

Contact Go To Court on 1300 636 846 to arrange an appointment to discuss your entitlements in a public liability claim.

Published in

Oct 24, 2022

Nicola Bowes

Solicitor

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.
Nicola Bowes

Nicola Bowes

Solicitor

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.

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