Those who own and control public spaces – including property owners, businesses, transit operators, government entities, etc. – have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect the public at large from injury. If you have been injured through no fault of your own in a public space, you may be able to bring a public liability claim.
Multiple forms of negligence may be grounds for a public liability claim, including:
- Dangerous conditions on the property
- Failure to warn visitors of unsafe conditions
- Negligence on the part of employees
- Inadequate security
- Outbreaks of foodborne and waterborne illnesses
Henry Carus + Associates can help if you suffered injury or lost a loved one in an accident in a public space. Contact our public liability lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
When Can I Make a Public Liability Claim?
Your right to bring a public liability claim is contingent on your ability to prove that the negligence of another led to your injuries. For your claim to succeed, you need to establish the following:
- The owner of the property owed you a duty of care (i.e., a responsibility to avoid causing you foreseeable harm)
- This duty was breached through negligence (whether by the owner, an employee, etc.)
- You suffered injury as a result of the negligence
- Your injuries resulted in damages
It is important to speak with a public liability lawyer promptly if you suffered injury in a public space. Timely investigation is essential for collecting evidence of each of the elements above.
Who Is Liable for Injuries in Public Places?
Accidents can happen anywhere. If you were injured in any of the following locations, you may be able to bring a public liability claim:
- Supermarkets, shopping centres, and other retail spaces
- Parks and playgrounds
- Schools and schoolyards
- Private property, such as homes and condominiums
- Rental properties
- Sidewalks and footpaths
- Car parks
- Restaurants and bars
- Gyms and fitness facilities
- Amusement parks
- Swimming pools and water parks
- Concert venues and other public event spaces
- Airplanes, trains, and boats
- Water sport venues
- Government and local council property
- And more
Liability for an accident in these and other public spaces may rest with the owner of the property, an occupant that controls the premises (such as a store that leases space in a shopping centre), or a third party performing work on the property (such as a construction or maintenance company). Compensation is generally paid through the defendant’s public liability insurance.
It is also common for some areas to be under the responsibility of more than one entity, each of which may be fully liable to an injured person.
A public liability lawyer will investigate to determine who is at fault for your injuries. Perhaps more importantly, your lawyer can represent you in communications and negotiations with all those that are responsible, either directly or through their insurance company.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Public Liability Claim?
Generally, you have 3 years from the date of injury to bring a public liability claim. However, it is important to take legal action much sooner.
Crucial evidence may disappear or be destroyed if you wait too long. This is especially true of accidents caused by issues that can be easily cleaned up or repaired, such as dangerous conditions resulting in a slip and fall or trip and fall.
Most public liability claims do not ever go so far as a court trial. Typically, these claims are settled through negotiations between the lawyer for the victim and the insurance company for the business, property owner, or other at-fault party. In the event that a favourable settlement for the injured person cannot be reached, you may be advised that a trial in court will achieve the outcome you deserve.
Preparing a matter to achieve the best possible outcome is a time-intensive process. This is why appointing a law firm as soon as possible after your accident is so strongly recommended.
What Can I Claim for an Injury in a Public Place?
The compensation you can recover in a public liability claim depends on the seriousness of your injuries and the losses you sustain. If the evidence shows that someone else’s negligence caused you harm, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to your injuries
- Lost wages if you are unable to work after the accident
- Attendant care services
- Loss of earning capacity (if your injuries result in permanent disability that prevents you from working)
- Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of amenities of life are categorised as non-economic damages. Under the Wrongs Act 1958, these damages are only recoverable if you suffer what is defined as a significant injury.
To claim damages for non-economic loss, you will need to undergo a specialised assessment to determine the degree of permanent impairment caused by your injuries. You will be issued a certificate of assessment if the medical practitioner finds that the level of impairment meets the threshold for significant injury.
How Long Do Public Liability Claims Take?
The time it takes to resolve your public liability claim will depend on a number of factors. Notably, you will need to wait for your injuries to be deemed “stable” before you can undergo the impairment assessment. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, this can take several months.
Another aspect of public liability claims that takes time is negotiating a favourable settlement. Insurance companies rarely offer to settle claims for their true value, which is why hiring a lawyer is essential.
It can take several months to over a year to negotiate a fair settlement for a public liability claim. The time frame is longer if a settlement cannot be reached and your case goes to court.
Public liability claims can be complicated. The owners and occupants who control public spaces (as well as their insurance companies) commonly dispute liability for injuries and accidents. For this reason, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
At Henry Carus + Associates, we believe that You Deserve More. This means providing our clients with a peerless level of personalised legal service, as well as exploring all options for recovering maximum compensation.
Please call Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our public liability lawyers serve clients in Melbourne and throughout VIC.