Public Liability Claims NSW – Compensation Claims | Law Partners

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Public Injury, Injury and Rehabilitation | 17 March 2020

2020 Guide to Public Liability Compensations Claims in NSW


How to make a public liability claim in NSW

People injured in public places or buildings in NSW may be entitled to make public liability claims. All public places and buildings, including rental properties, are required to have public liability insurance. So if you’re injured, you might be able to make a compensation claim against the public liability insurer.

For public liability claims to be successful, you’ll need to prove that:

  • Your accident could have been avoided if the authority or building manager had taken action to prevent it
  • You’ve incurred losses as a result of your injuries

Proving these two points is not always straightforward – a building manager can only be held liable if they knew or should have known about a potential hazard and did nothing about it.

Take for example a slip and fall accident. If a hazard like roof leak causing a slippery floor had just happened prior to your accident, and there was no way for the building manager to know about it yet, it’s very unlikely they could be held liable. However, if the building manager knew about the slippery floor and failed to do anything about it, then it’s likely they would be held liable for your accident. For more information read our slip, trip and fall claims guide.

If someone can be held liable for your accident and you’ve had a significant injury, time off work and medical bills, then it’s likely to be worth pursuing a public liability claim. On the other hand, if you’ve just had minor injuries and were able to continue about you daily activities without any treatment or time off, it may not be economically viable to claim.

The best way to pursue a public liability claim is speak to an experienced public liability lawyer who will be able to assess your situation and tell you over the phone if you have a valid claim.

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A typical cafe scene where a public liability claim can arise from a slip and fall.

What’s the claims process in NSW?

To pursue a public liability claim in NSW, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Gather evidence of your accident. This could include photos of the hazard that caused your accident, statements from witnesses and accident reports from the local authority or building manager.
  • Have your injuries assessed by a doctor. You’ll need medical evidence such as scans and x-rays to prove what injuries you suffered from the accident.
  • Identify who’s responsible. You’ll need to identify who is the organisation or person in charge of the location or building where the accident occurred, as you’ll be claiming against their public liability insurer.
  • Once you’ve submitted a claim, if the insurer accepts liability then it’s likely it will offer you a settlement payment. Many public liability claims are settled without the need for court action.
  • If the insurer rejects liability or you’re unable to settle out of court, you may need to take court action to gain compensation for your losses.
Public liability claims can be complex and it’s strongly advised that you engage an experienced public liability lawyer to act on your behalf and manage the claim process for you. A no win no fee lawyer will fund your case for you so you’ll only have to pay their fees after you receive your compensation.


What are some common public liability claim examples?

Public liability claims generally fall into the following categories:

  • Slips and falls due to spillages and wet surfaces
  • Trips and falls due to obstructions and hazards
  • Injuries from faulty equipment and facilities
  • Being struck by a falling object
  • Injuries from assaults
  • Burns from hot water and spilled hot food or drinks
  • Contact with hazardous substances like chemicals
  • Injuries from shattered or broken glass
  • Finger and hand injuries from being jammed in doors
  • Dog bites

A common public liability claim is a slip and fall accident in a supermarket or shopping centre. Supermarkets are notorious places for spillages and wet floors that become hazardous, so it’s no surprise that the majority of accidents in supermarkets are from slips and falls.

For more public liability claim examples, refer to this article: Three examples of when to make a public liability claim.


What are the different types of public liability claims?

Public liability claims arise in a number of situations – here are the most common:

  • Supermarkets and shopping centres – slips, trips and falls
  • Restaraunts and cafes – slips, trips and falls, food poisoning
  • Hotels and bars – slips, trips and falls, assaults
  • Assaults and security guard incidents
  • Rental properties – accidents from poorly maintainted premises
  • Public and private schools – slips, trips and falls, sporting injuries
  • Sporting events and recreational activities – slips, trips and falls, accidents from poorly maintained premises or equipment

Click here for a public liability claim case study involving a slip and fall in a supermarket.


What is the time limit for a claim in NSW?

If you’ve been injured, you have three years from the date of injury to make a claim. However, in some cases it might be possible to claim up to three years from becoming aware of your injury. If you’re a minor or a person with a disability you have six years from the date of injury.

Regardless of how long it’s been since your injury, if you’re considering claiming public liability compensation you should speak to a specialist lawyer and get advice on your options. The sooner you start the process the easier it will be to gather the evidence you need to make a claim.

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