Public liability is the broadest category for personal injury in Queensland, and covers injuries that occur in public which do not fall within law relating to workplace or motor vehicle accident claims.

This means that you may have a claim for, but not limited to, injuries that occur in the following circumstances:

  • A slip, trip or fall in a shopping centre, at someone’s home, on the road, on a footpath and any other public area.
  • Medical negligence caused by a medical practitioner (including general practitioners, specialists, surgeons, surgical assistants, nurses, allied health professions and hospitals) in respect of advice, treatment and warning of risks of the treatment.
  • Nervous shock causing a recognised psychological injury. This is commonly experienced where a person is advised of, or witnessed the death of, a family member or someone else close to them. However, there must be some negligence on the part of the person who caused the incident resulting in your injury.
  • Product liability, including defective medical implants

Whilst this category of personal injury is broad, there are many exceptions that have been established by Courts.

For example, the Courts have found that occupiers of land cannot necessarily be found to be negligent for the random violent acts of third parties.

Claims process

For public liability claims in Queensland, the usual process is as follows:

  • You issue the insurance company with a “Part 1 Notice of Claim”, which sets out the particulars of the accident.
  • You issue the insurance company with a “Part 2 Notice of Claim”, which sets out the financial aspects of your claim.
  • You will generally have to be assessed by one or more relevant medical practitioners to establish the extent of your injuries. The defendant may want a “check medical”, which is an assessment of you performed by a doctor selected from a panel of doctors submitted to you.
  • The parties then exchange relevant documentation. The defendant may or may not admit they are liable for your injuries.
  • The parties must then attend a “compulsory conference”, which is effectively a mediation where the parties will discuss the claim in an informal setting.
  • Proceedings are then issued in the Courts.
  • If the claim is not resolved, the parties may attend a further mediation (sometimes with a mediator, who is an independent third party).
  • Proceedings must generally be issued in a Court within three years of when the “cause of action” arises (commonly referred to as the Statute of Limitations), otherwise the right to sue for that injury will be lost. In any event, you should immediately seek legal advice from us as to your rights.

Because of the importance of gathering evidence at the earliest possible opportunity in these types of claims, and the very strict time limits for making a claim, we recommend speaking with a solicitor immediately.

You may also want more information about making a claim for a workplace injury or a motor vehicle incident.