Three examples of when to make a public liability claim - Law Partners
 

Public Injury, Injury and Rehabilitation | 16 March 2018

Three examples of when to make
a public liability claim

Aussies are a resilient bunch.

We’re hard workers and pride ourselves on not letting circumstances of life bog us down or get in our way of achieving what we want.

This inbuilt quality is certainly admirable, but sometimes accidents happen through no fault of our own, and quite often when we’re out in public – where we should feel safe. And sometimes the consequences of these accidents can’t be brushed off or easily overcome.

No one should have to be forced to just accept the consequences of someone else’s actions or negligence and it’s important to realise there are options available to help everyday Australians who’ve been injured in a public place or on someone else’s property.

So, what exactly is public liability?

You’ve probably heard the term public liability thrown around in the news but never taken the time to understand exactly what it is. Essentially, public liability refers to the duty of care or responsibility a business, government or property owner has to the general public.

In order to be successful in your public liability claim, you need to prove that the business, government or property owner failed in their responsibility to put reasonable measures in place to prevent you from harm. By measures, things like visible warning signs and maintenance of any equipment or areas of the property.

To give you a better understanding, here are three scenarios where a public liability claim would be warranted.

“I broke my ankle after tripping over a tree root on a running path at the park, which I discovered had been previously reported as a hazard to council.”

Generally it’s difficult to win public liability cases against local councils because they’re heavily protected under the legislation, but that’s not to say they can’t be held accountable. In this instance, if a hazard such as a tree root growing on a running path exists, and after sustaining your injury you discover it was officially reported to the council previously – a public liability claim would be valid because the council had knowledge of the hazard and didn’t do anything to protect the public from potential injury.

 “I slipped on a puddle of water that was leaking from the supermarket fridge and sustained damage to my vertebra. There were no warning signs in place.”

Supermarkets and stores are required to ensure their appliances are regularly serviced and suitable to operate when customers are around. A fridge that leaks water is an obvious hazard and it’s the responsibility of the supermarket to have a regular cleaning system in place to notice and warn customers of these types of situations. In this scenario, the monitoring or cleaning system failed to detect the hazard which directly caused the slip injury. As a result, you would have a strong public liability case against the supermarket.

“When I returned to my car in a private car park at night, the lighting in the corner where my car was parked was so dim I couldn’t see the drain that was partially covered in front of me, and I fell in it – tearing ligaments in my ankle and knee.”

With many public liability claims, a common defence is ‘obvious risk’ – which simply refers to the presence of a potential hazard being so obvious that the person should know to take the right action in order to avoid an accident. In this case, the partially covered drain could be considered an obvious risk, however, upon closer inspection of the very dim lighting in the area, it becomes clear that it was extremely difficult to avoid the drain, and not an obvious risk at all.

With a public liability case, what can I claim for?

Compensation that results from a public liability claim can cover lost income, medical and travel expenses, domestic assistance, pain and suffering, permanent impairment and future losses.

If you feel as though you have a potential public liability claim and want to know if you’re entitled to injury compensation, give us a call and speak to one of our specialist public liability lawyers for free advice today.

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