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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.

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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

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.

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