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Jan 25

How to Make a Public Liability Claim in Queensland

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In order to make a public liability claim, be it for an injury that was sustained in Brisbane or anywhere else in Queensland, you first have to establish if a public liability claim is appropriate.

A public liability claim is appropriate if:

  • You were injured in a “public” place. For example, you may have hurt your ankle and leg because you fell into an open and unmarked manhole while walking through Brisbane City Mall. A public place could be a shopping centre, theme park, recreational sport venue etc.;
  • You were injured in Queensland;
  • You were injured because of the negligence of another person or organisation;
  • The negligent i.e. “at fault” person or organisation has been identified; and
  • The legal time limit with respect to submitting your claim has not expired.

A public liability claim is NOT appropriate if:

  • You were injured either at work or because of your work. For example, you were injured driving to work. The applicable legislation in this instance would be the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) ;
  • You were injured in a motor vehicle accident. For example, another car rear-ended your car resulting in you sustaining a whiplash injury. Your claim will be dealt with via the Compulsory Third Party Insurance scheme;
  • You were injured in a “private” environment as opposed to a “public” environment. For example, you were injured in someone’s private home.
  • You were injured as a result of a medical procedure or medical malpractice. This scenario involves a complex and specialised area of law best dealt with by specialist lawyers.
Once it has been determined that a public liability claim is appropriate, a number of legal thresholds will need to be met in order to determine if yourpublic liability claim can be lodged. These legal thresholds include:
  1. That you were owed a legal duty of care by the person, organisation, company, or council; and
  2. You sustained an injury; and
  3. Your injury was caused by the negligence of that person, organisation, company, or council; and
  4. You suffered a loss. For example, you were not able to work for a period of time and, as a result, lost income; and
  5. You can lodge your public liability claim before the statutory time limit expires.
 

After determining that you can lodge a public liability claim, evidence will need to be acquired to support your claim. Please take note that if you have engaged the services of a Personal Injury Lawyer, the tasks referenced below will be undertaken by your lawyer on your behalf.

An example of the evidence that may be obtained includes financial information such as payslips and Income Tax Returns. This financial information will be used as evidence to support your claim that you have suffered a financial loss as a result of your injury.

Another example of the type of evidence that may be obtained to support your claim could include medical evidence. Examples of medical evidence could include your doctor’s notes, an Independent Medico-legal Examiner’s report, physiotherapist’s treatment plan etc.

Once all of the required evidence has been obtained, this evidence will be used to address specific questions in the required forms. These forms and the supporting evidence have to be provided to the correctly identified Respondent before time limits expire.

Upon receipt of your claim forms the Respondent (this is usually the third-party, such as an insurer, who responds to your claim for damages) will notify you with respect to your claim forms being compliant or not.

Of note, the Respondent has the legal right to be provided with or obtain any evidence in relation to your claim.

The Respondent also has the right to request that you be examined by one of their Independent Medico-legal specialists.

It is required by law that you, the Claimant, attend a compulsory conference with the Respondent to negotiate the “settlement “of your claim. The aim of the compulsory conference is to resolve the legal issue before having to consider initiating proceedings in court.

At the compulsory conference an “offer of settlement” will most probably be made. If the Claimant accepts this “offer of settlement” and thus, settles their claim, the Claimant will no longer be able to legally pursue the Respondent in relation to this particular claim. Thus, for example, if the Claimant accepted settlement and after this date realised that their losses were greater than what was originally claimed, the Claimant can no longer seek compensation for their losses or “damages” from the Respondent.

If, however, the Claimant’s legal issue is not resolved at the compulsory conference stage, i.e. an offer of settlement is not agreed upon; the matter may proceed to court.

It is important to note that the above information relating to how to make a public liability claim in Queensland is a very basic overview of the legal process involved. We strongly suggest that any potential Claimant initially consult with an Accredited Personal Injury Specialist as soon as possible to ensure that their legal rights are protected.

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