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Claiming negligence when injured in a public place?

02 Jun 2014

insurance claim form, written off by pen

 

A lot of our clients who have suffered an injury in a public place ask us about negligence and what they can claim.

It’s important to first understand negligence, and then to see whether it applies in your case.

Negligence is the legal term used to describe how careful or diligent someone was when an injury occurred and how careful or diligent they should have been, according to law. 

To be successful in a personal injuries claim in Queensland, you must first prove that your injury was caused by the negligence of someone else. 

There are three elements to proving negligence in a personal injury claim:

1. Duty of care

We all have a duty of care to take reasonable action not to cause foreseeable harm to another person. What constitutes foreseeable harm is often unclear, but generally, if someone is so closely and directly affected by your acts or omissions, then you will probably owe that person a duty of care.

2. Breach

Once you have established that the person at fault owed you a duty of care, you must then prove that there has been a breach of that duty. Obviously if someone knowingly exposes you to a foreseeable risk, then there is a breach of duty of care. A duty of care is also breached if someone simply fails to realise or consider the risk of injury or harm that they are causing.

3. Loss or injury or other damage

Finally, you have to prove that the breach of duty of care owed to you was the cause of your loss or injury. You need to ask, ‘Would the injury have occurred with or without the breach of the duty of care?’

So in summary, to make a claim for negligence, you would have to show that:

  • The person you believe is responsible for your injury, loss or damage:

    • owed you a duty of care
      and

    • breached the duty of care they owed you.

  • You suffered a loss or injury or other damage.

  • Your loss, injury or the damage occurred as a result of the breach of the duty of care.

You need to show all of these points for a claim to be successful.

If you believe negligence applies in your case, then you need to seek specialist legal advice. GC Law can help you. Call us on 1300 302 318.

Important points to know

Proving cause of injury

In some cases it will be obvious what caused the injury (for example, if a person slips on a wet floor and then discovers they have a broken arm), but sometimes showing the cause of an injury can be more complex (for example, the person slips on a wet floor, but earlier in the morning they hurt their arm in a fall on the stairs of another building).

There is likely to be a question about which fall caused the injury. In this case, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. Call GC Law on 1300 302 318.

Acting quickly with your claim

If you have suffered an injury because of negligence, you may be able to make a civil claim for damages through the courts. Strict time limits apply for starting legal action for negligence in the courts. Get legal advice promptly about the time limit that applies in your situation.

Determining whether a claim is worthwhile

Whether or not a claim is worthwhile depends on the severity of the injury and the costs of pursuing the claim. You will need legal advice in order to determine:

  • whether there is any legal basis to your claim
  • who you should make a claim against
  • the chances of success
  • the costs involved in going to court (for example, legal costs, court fees and witness fees)
  • the appropriate court.

Because legal action can be costly, time-consuming and stressful, in many cases the parties negotiate a settlement. But legal advice is necessary before negotiations commence.

Being prepared to talk to your lawyer

GC Law can advise you on your particular case. Once you have made an appointment to speak with us, please gather the following information and bring it to your appointment:

  • personal details of any other parties involved
  • names and addresses of any witnesses
  • any letters you have received about the matter
  • copies of any letters you have written about the matter
  • the date, time and place of the incident
  • full details of how the incident occurred (notes may be helpful)
  • a full description of injuries or loss (for example, if the claim relates to property damage, quotes for repair and valuations are useful)
  • details of any hospitalisation or treatment
  • full names and addresses of any treating doctors or other therapists
  • any medical accounts or other accounts related to this injury
  • details of work history and current employment details
  • your thoughts on how the injury is currently affecting you
  • any photos taken (photos should be dated and signed by the person who took them).

 

If you believe you might have a case for negligence, please contact the team at GC Law as soon as possible on 1300 302 318. We will discuss your case and advise if you have a claim for negligence.