What is a Public Liability Claim?

If you have suffered personal injury in a public area such as on a street, a carpark, in a shopping centre or shop or even in someone’s home and if that injury is due to the negligence (fault) of another you may be entitled to bring a personal injury compensation claim.

Typical examples of such claims are slip and falls in supermarkets, trips on streets, attacks by dogs either in a public place or someone else’s house, injury in a rental property. It also includes sexual abuse claims, injuries in the school environment, injury from playing sport. If you’re not sure if your injury falls under this category, call us for a no obligation and no fee phone consult.

How do I bring a claim?

A claim is started by sending what is referred to as a Letter of Demand to the person or business considered at fault.

Generally, that letter is passed to the person or business’ public liability insurer.

Once your injury is stabilised and the evidence is gathered to prove the loss you have suffered, we prepare a schedule of the compensation you are entitled to claim based on the evidence gathered. We discuss the schedule with you and once we are both satisfied with the schedule it is sent to the insurer as an opening offer.

The insurer will either agree to negotiate with you to explore if your claim can be resolved or alternatively may ignore the offer.

If the insurer is not willing to negotiate with you, the only way to move your case forward is by lodging your claim with the court (either the District or Supreme Court).

Court proceedings have to be lodged with the Court within 3-years of the date of your injury.

What compensation can I claim?

The compensation you are entitled to receive will depend on your individual circumstances, including the extent of your injury, whether you lost wages due to your injury, whether you needed and will need ongoing assistance because of your injury and the extent of medical treatment required due to your injury.

Because each case is different, we take a detailed history from you at the beginning of your case, so we understand how the injury has affected your life and thus what compensation you are entitled to claim. We get intermittent updates from you about your situation during the life of your claim.

With your permission we also obtain details from family, friends and work colleagues as to how the accident has affected you. Such evidence is very persuasive and helpful in getting the best outcome for your case.

How long will it take?

This will depend on your recovery. As you can only make one claim for a particular accident, it is important to fully understand the full extent of your injury and its effect on your future life before the claim is finalised. Thus, it is recommended that your claim is not finalised until your injury has stabilised.

Each case is different but as a general rule, most injuries are considered stabilised at about 12 months post injury. Once your injury is stabilised, we arrange for you to be seen by a doctor to give an opinion on your injury. The doctor we send you to will depend on your injury. Sometimes we will arrange for you to been seen by more than one doctor and other health professionals. Whilst waiting for your injury to stabilise we gather the evidence needed to prove your loss and the compensation you are entitled to, such as tax returns, evidence from your employer, educational records etc.

As a general rule most cases finish 15 to 24 months post injury. About 80% to 90% of cases are settled by way of negotiation with the insurer.

What legal costs do I have to pay?

The legal costs consist of two components:

  • The Professional Costs for the work we do in running your case. The insurer has to pay a proportion of those costs. You do not have to pay our professional costs until you receive compensation from your case. If you don’t receive compensation, we don’t seek the payment of our costs – this is referred to as a conditional cost agreement or a no win no fee agreement.
  • In the event your case goes to court and you lose the case, the court would order you to pay a proportion of the insurer’s legal costs. We provide advice to you in relation to whether you should take your case to court.
  • Disbursements – This refers to money spent on obtaining the evidence, for example medical records and reports, engineer’s reports, accountant’s reports and also expenses incurred in photocopying/printing/phone. If you can pay the disbursements as they are incurred, particularly for medical reports you will avoid incurring overdraft interest. If you win your case the insurer will have to reimburse you for a percentage of the disbursements incurred. Unless you elect to pay the disbursements as they are incurred, the disbursements also do not become payable until you receive compensation.

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