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When going to the shopping centre or visiting a venue, you are entitled to feel safe, and indeed, to be safe.

Slipping, tripping, or falling over in a public place can result in injuries. When your injury was caused by the negligence of the party who is responsible for the public place, you may be entitled to claim compensation for the loss and damage you have suffered.

Public place injuries are relatively common, with people suffering injuries due to a range of factors. There might be inadequate warning signs about a wet floor, or a badly maintained walkway resulting in an injury due to tripping on a raised section of concrete.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare outlines information on injuries due to slips and falls, noting that while many injuries are preventable thousands of people each year are injured due to unintentional falls, many of which require hospitalisation.

However you have suffered your injury, if you have been injured in a slip, trip or fall accident or suffered an injury in a public place that was not your fault you may be eligible to seek compensation. Our Brisbane no win no fee lawyers can check your rights for free and run claims with no upfront costs.

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What type of incidents are classified as public liability claims?

Generally, any injury that is suffered in a public place which is caused or contributed to in a major way through the fault of the owner or responsible party for that public place.

  • Slip and falls in shopping centres, supermarket, retail, cafe, bar etc - for example a neck injury from slipping over on some spilled milk in an aisle and making supermarket injury compensation claims
  • Injuries in hotels or other accommodation - being hit by fallen objects or slipping or tripping on a rug or poorly maintained equipment or property
  • Injuries from poorly maintained rental properties - grazes and cuts from exposed nails or illness or injury due to mould or other conditions
  • Injury on public property such as footpath due to negligence of council or a providers such as utility company - such as tripping on uneven paths
  • Excessive force used by a bouncer or security guard - being tackled or aggressively handled without due cause
  • Food poisoning - such as that sustained in a restaurant or venue
  • Injuries during sports activities - where poorly maintained facilities contributed to injury
  • Dog bite injuries - claimable against the person who owns the dog or the party responsible for maintaining a fence
  • Injuries out on the water from boats and personal watercraft accidents including jet skis - such as injuries from collisions or a hand injury from a faulty anchor winch.
  • Public playground and school yard accidents - such as broken arms or slips and falls

Example: Tracy is walking home from work when she steps onto a poorly installed manhole cover. The manhole moves, and her right foot becomes lodged between the concrete and the cover. She further twists the ankle when she falls over, sustaining a broken ankle and grazing to her arms and hands when she falls. Due to the fact that this manhole cover should have been appropriately installed, it is likely that the authority responsible for this manhole would be liable for Tracy’s injuries and she could be eligible to make a footpath injury compensation claim.

Example: Gideon is leaving a nightclub when a bouncer mistakes him for a patron who was involved in an earlier fight in the venue. He puts Gideon into a headlock and pushes him to the ground, fracturing Gideon’s collarbone in the process. Gideon would be able to make a security and bouncer injury compensation claim for the injury and any damage suffered as a result of this action.

Common public place injuries

Some of the most common public place injuries include:

  • Sprained wrists and twisted ankles - these can happen anywhere and are a common injury in shopping centre injury compensation claims
  • Grazes and abrasions - often a product of slipping and falling, grazes and cuts can range of mild to severe and often require medical attention
  • Back injuries - another possible outcome from a slip or fall, back pain can be an associated injury concurrent with a fall
  • Broken bones - serious falls or accidents will result in broken bones and associated injuries
  • General slips, trips, and falls - although relatively common, they can be serious and have serious consequences
  • Head injuries - if you fall and strike your head on the pavement or a surface this can be a serious injury resulting in concussion or even head trauma and brain injury

If you have been bitten by someone’s dog this can also be classified as a public place injury, as can food poisoning sustained by dining at a restaurant.

What should I do after a public place injury?

If you have been injured in a public place it is important that you are diligent in putting your health first.

  1. Even if you think your injuries are mild, your first step should be to get a check up with your healthcare provider. A sprained wrist not properly managed can turn into something chronic through overuse, and you do not want your injuries getting worse.
  2. Find out who is responsible for the public place and let them know that you have been injured. Find out if they have security camera footage of your accident, and this is sometimes deleted after a short period of time if no incidents are reported.  If you have been injured in an area where the Brisbane City Council is responsible you are able to notify them online about your injury.

If you are thinking of making a claim for compensation, you should get in touch with a personal injury law specialist. A lawyer can assess your claim and discuss your options with you, letting you know where you stand.

Even if you meet with a personal injuries lawyer you are not obligated to go through with a claim for compensation. Sometimes it is worth knowing what your options are, and going from there.

Are there any time limits for public place injury claims in Queensland?

You have three years from the date your injury took place in which to claim compensation for a public place accident.

You will also need to notify the at-fault party (the party responsible for the public place) within nine months of your injury, or within one month of consulting with a personal injury lawyer - whichever comes first.

There are some exceptions including for those aged 18 or under at the time of the claim. Our time limits FAQ page has further information.

How long do public liability claims take?

Generally, a public liability claim takes up to about 18 months to process

However, every claim for public place liability is different so it will take different amounts of time, depending on the level of complexity of the case, the injury sustained, the time taken for recovery and your injury to stabilise, and the medical reports and evidence needed. 

Our lawyers can discuss your matter with you in an obligation-free consultation and will go through every element of proceeding with a public liability claim with you.

What can I claim for?

When injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a public place you will be able to make a claim for loss and damage suffered.

This claim process includes calculation of:

  • Medical and hospital expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Care provided by other people
  • Ongoing treatment and healthcare (including physiotherapy and allied health services)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Future home modifications
  • Loss of earnings both present and future

The final sum may be significant depending on the level of injury suffered and the level of care and medical treatment required. If your earning capacity has been affected as a result of your injuries, the amount of compensation payable will also depend on how much money you were earning at the time of the accident, and how much money you are able to earn after the accident. Talk with one of our Brisbane accident lawyers for free initial advice.

How will my claim be calculated?

Your claim will be calculated by assessing your position at the time of the accident and will attempt to land upon a financial figure that places you in the same position you would have been in, had the accident not occurred. 

What this means is that any medical expenses will be included, as well as past and future loss of income. Factors such as pain and suffering which impact enjoyment in life are also taken into consideration.

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Frequently Answered Questions

How to report a public place injury

When injured in a public place there is a lot going on — you may be seriously hurt and you will likely be dealing with the fallout of your injuries. 

Often the last thing on your mind is to report your accident, but the sooner you do this the better. If you are helping someone who is an injured person, make sure you take care of reporting this accident on their behalf, with their consent.

  • The first thing you will need to do is contact management of the venue or location you are at, if possible, to report the accident - in writing - and to get a copy of the accident report.
  • Provide as much detail as possible in your statement and ensure you make a note of the accident for yourself as close to the time that the accident occurred.
  • Get witness details if you can, so that you can get verification of your accident down the line.

What’s the impact on the business or organisation I’m suing? Do they pay?

When you make a claim for compensation for a public place injury, the public place’s insurer will respond to the claim on the business’s behalf.  

  • You may have heard of public liability insurance - or even had to get public liability insurance for an event or work function.
  • This insurance exists to ensure that if anyone is injured in a public place that their injuries will be covered by this insurance.

How do I prove my case for public liability compensation?

You will need to provide evidence of your injury, the way in which it happened, and how the occupier of the public place caused or contributed to your injury. This will require you to secure medical evidence about your injury, as well as medical reports about the potential future impact of your injury. 

You will require statements from witnesses, security camera footage, shift reports from the public place venue and any other relevant material about why your accident happened. You may also need to secure expert reports from people who can advise on liability aspects of your case.

Supermarket accident claims

Supermarket slips and falls are common due to spillages or dropped products such as grapes on the floor. You may be able to seek compensation for slipping in a supermarket if the retailer was negligent in it’s reasonable duty to provide a safe space to shop.

Example 1: Rob is walking down an aisle of the supermarket and fails to notice a child being pushed in a trolley throwing a half eaten yogurt pouch out of the trolley. A matter of seconds later, Rob slips on the messy yogurt pouch and injures his back. In this situation it is possible the supermarket was not at fault as Rob was not paying attention and the hazard had only been in place for a few seconds before the incident.

Example 2: Tina is walking in the fruit aisle where a staff member is unloading pallets of fruit and vegetables onto the shelves. The staff member has been there for over half an hour and failed to pick up fallen produce from the trolley despite a few customers raising the issue. Tina slips and injures her pelvis on crushed fruit on the ground. As the issue had been raised with the retailer and no action taken, it’s possible that negligence contributed to this incident.

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is an insurance policy that protects the insured party in the event of a public liability claim.

If you own or manage private premises, whether it be a home or business, then you are likely to need public liability cover (or public liability insurance). You may not think that there will be a problem and you may not even think that people will make claims against you, but the reality is that most accidents do happen unexpectedly. You don't want to be caught out or left vulnerable because you didn't have adequate public liability insurance cover in place.

Public liability insurance covers claims made by members of the public for injuries suffered at an insurance policy holder's premises or on their property.

Does public liability insurance cover accidents?

Yes, generally speaking, businesses and organisations such as restaurants, bars, supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls and hotels all have an obligation to provide a safe environment as far as is reasonably possible.

If a business or organisation is shown to be negligent in it’s expected duty of care and an injury occurs as a result of that negligence, then a public liability claim may be possible. In these situations, a personal injury law firm such as ourselves will run the case for the injured party and negotiate with the negligent parties public liability insurance company for a settlement to help cover loss of income, medical costs and so on.

How to make a public liability claim

1: Report it: It’s crucial to report the accident as soon as practically possible to the venue or organisation responsible for the location in which the accident happened. Try to speak to a manager and get a report in writing if possible.

Reporting it to an organisation will help ensure they keep key details including CCTV footage if available and records of staff at the scene.

2: Seek medical advice: If you’ve been injured then get the medical checks and treatment you require as soon as possible.
3: Seek legal advice: Have a free chat with our Brisbane based accident lawyers about your specific situation to see if you may have a claim. There is no cost or obligation to check if your injuries may qualify for a claim. If your claim is suitable and you become a client, we then lodge a claim with the relevant public liability insurer and gather the required evidence to start the legal compensation process.

Can I sue the council for tripping?

Potentially you can sue a council for tripping on a footpath (or nature strip) if the council is negligent by not maintaining paths or not warning of a dangerous condition.

This would depend on proving that it was the council's fault and the extent of your injuries (such as a broken ankle or a foot injury). As trips and falls can be caused by many reasons then the circumstances would need to be reviewed. It's also not possible for councils to keep all footpaths in perfect condition so, it would also depend on factors such as the severity of the fault and whether Council were previously aware of the fault.

Many footpath injuries are down to human error factors such as not paying due care and attention, rushing, mis-stepping, untied shoelaces, weather and other factors outside of council control.

Injured by bouncer or security guard

If you are injured by a premises user or an employee of the owner, then public liability insurance may be able to help you if the force used is deemed unreasonable.

Bouncers at venues such as nightclubs and security guards at bars, casino's, hotels, retail stores and malls are tasked with keeping patrons as safe as possible. At times, it may be deemed reasonable for them to physically restrain a patron who is causing potential harm to other guests and refusing to leave or take the requested actions from security staff.

However, there are cases where excessive force is used which results in income impacting injuries such as nerve damage to the wrist or shoulder injuries due to over extension. If you believe you have been victim to this then please start a chat or contact us to see if you may have a claim.

Hotel injury compensation claim

Common hotel injuries include falls in the hotel room, slips on wet floors in public areas of the hotel, swimming pool accidents or being burned by hot drinks served at a cafe or restaurant.

Accidents that are caused by faulty equipment are also likely to be covered under public liability insurance.

For there to be a compensation claim for an injury incurred at a Queensland hotel or resort, the venue's negligence would have needed to have caused or significantly contributed to the accident.

As an example, let’s say an injury occurred after someone got out of the bath and slipped on a wet floor. This is something that always incurs a natural level of risk whether you are getting out of a bath at home or staying somewhere. Two scenarios are shown below.

Scenario A: The hotel has suitable tiles and provides a floor towel for guests to place on the floor by the shower or bath to prevent falls. The hotel guest didn’t use the floor towel and had splashed soapy water onto the floor while in the bath drinking a bottle of wine. On attempting to get out of the bath, the guest slips on the soapy wet floor and suffers an injury. In this case, it is likely the guest may be considered at-fault and the hotel was not negligent.

Scenario B: Hotel had used tiles unsuitable for bathroom use that were very slippery and had failed to provide any warning or bath mat/towel. Previously slippages had been reported and noted in online hotel reviews. In this scenario, there could be an argument of negligence on behalf of the hotel.

Dog attack compensation

In order to make an injury compensation claim for a dog attack in Brisbane or Queensland, the dog needs to have been deemed a "potentially dangerous dog" by the local council.

If a dog is deemed a potentially dangerous dog then it is possible that the owner will need to hold public liability insurance which covers instances of personal injury or property damage caused by that animal. They also have increased responsibilities to restrain their animal and ensure it doesn't escape or is let loose outside of its registered home property.

Becoming a registered potential dangerous dog typically happens if they have been involved in a reported similar attack previously.

Murphy's Law Accident Lawyers may be able to assist with injuries (to people) by dogs that are registered as potentially dangerous.

We are unable to assist with compensation for vet bills if your dog was injured by another dog. You can try to request this from the owner and if they refuse, QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal) can be used to dispute the vet bill debt.

Rental property injury claims

If you have been injured at a rental property then you may be entitled to a compensation claim if the landlord or property agent was at fault.

Homes are the scene of many accidents such as falling off ladders, electrocution, burns, cuts to the hand or fingers from knives or saws and falls down stairs. However, most of these would not be the fault of a landlord and therefore not covered by the landlord or property managers public liability insurance.

However, landlords do have a responsibility to ensure a property meets required standards and is generally fit for habitation.

The RTA (Rental Tenancies Authority) can be a good first step for information and reporting issues if not dealt with as you hoped when contacting your landlord or agent. 

Tip: Always try to report in writing (even if following up with a call) to keep a record of what has been requested and said.

Therefore, a possible claim may be more likely in situations of possible negligence such as:

  • Reported safety related issues not being rectified in a reasonable timeframe
  • Building work not being at required standards - for example, a new staircase from a back deck in which the stairs are notably uneven or don’t meet building code standards.

While agents and/or landlords are expected to inspect a property from time to time, issues are likely to arrive that they can’t always be expected to know or predict if not informed. A free chat with our team can help determine if your injury relates to landlord negligence or not.

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