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Have you been injured in a public place?

If you are injured in a public place, you may be eligible to pursue a claim for compensation if you have suffered a ‘serious injury’.

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Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about these types of public liability claims to help you. We hope this guide can help you navigate what to do after an accident and how to lodge a claim to get compensation for your injuries so you can focus on your recovery.

What is a public place?

Common examples of a public place include: 

  • Shops and supermarkets
  • Hospitals
  • Cafes, restaurants, bars
  • Sporting facilities 
  • Public transport and airplanes
  • Public buildings 
  • Rental properties

What is a significant injury?

For the purposes of a public liability claim, the law tells us that a ‘significant injury’ is:

  1. A physical injury causing more than 5% whole person impairment.
  2. A psychiatric injury causing at least 10% whole person impairment. 
  3. A spinal injury causing 5% whole person impairment or more. 

As lawyers, we usually have an idea about whether you will meet one of these thresholds based on past experience. However, you will need to be assessed by an approved doctor to be sure.

Who do I sue?

Determining who to sue is not always simple in a public liability matter.

Consider our imaginary complainant, Sally. Sally was walking along a footpath and failed to see a ditch in the concrete. She proceeded to step in the ditch and roll her ankle. She suffered a broken ankle and tendon injuries. She now struggles with driving and can no longer participate in many of her hobbies. The pain has also caused her to miss a lot of work. She comes to Arnold Dallas McPherson after her symptoms have persisted for a year after her accident.

Now, Sally could decide to sue the council, the body responsible for maintenance of the footpath. However, what we realise when viewing her accident location is that the ditch was directly outside a shop, meaning that the owner of the business is another potential Defendant. 

Some situations can be even more complex than this, with multiple potential Defendants. The process of deciding who to sue involves weighing up a variety of factors and is the first and most vital way in which we can help ensure that your matter progresses smoothly.

What can I claim?

What you can claim will depend on how your injury has impacted you personally. We will work closely with you in order to understand your situation as best we can and advise of the type of evidence that we’ll need to build your case.

Often, the type of compensation people seek includes:

  • Past loss of income. 
  • Loss of earning capacity. 
  • Medical expenses.
  • Travel expenses. 
  • Gratuitous care expenses. 
  • Pain and suffering. 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. 

Pain and suffering damages are calculated by making a holistic assessment of how your injury has impacted your life. This involves considering the impact that it has had on: 

  • Your hobbies. 
  • Your relationships with family and friends. 
  • Your ability to perform domestic duties. 
  • Mental and emotional anguish.

Do I have a time limit from when the accident occurred before I can sue?

Public liability claims are subject to a strict 3-year statutory limitation period. Therefore, you must commence a claim within this timeframe, or else you will not be able to pursue a claim unless you have an explanation for the delay.

What is the process of filing a public liability claim?

When you contact ADM, the process that your public liability claim follows will look something like this. 

  1. When you initially contact ADM, you will consult with a member of our new client intake team. They will take a summary of your matter and pass it on to the Partners for review. 
  2.  You will have an initial consultation with a lawyer to discuss the merit in your case and your options. If we feel you have a strong case, we will provide you a no win no fee cost agreement, meaning you will pay none of costs unless you win your action.
  3. We will collate evidence to support your matter, such as medical materials and evidence of your loss of earnings. 
  4. We will commence your claim, usually by sending a letter of demand. At this stage, we will invite the Defendant to attend an informal settlement conference. 
  5. If your matter does not settle at this stage, we will initiate proceedings under the Wrongs Act. It is likely that your will be medically examined to determine your degree of impairment. 
  6. Your matter will go to mediation. Most cases settle at this stage. 
  7. If no settlement is reached, Court proceedings will be commenced. 

Your lawyer will advise you every step of the way regarding your options.

Who will pay the compensation?

The individual or body that pays for compensation in a public liability matter will depend on where the incident occurred and who the negligent person was. In most instances, it is paid by an insurer. If the negligent person is a person who doesn’t have insurance, they may be personally liable for paying compensation. 

What is the likelihood of my claim being successful?

Many people make successful public liability claims every year in Australia, and most of these matters are settled outside of Court. 

If you are suffering from the ongoing consequence of an injury you sustained in a public place, it is absolutely worth speaking to us for a free claims check. It costs nothing to find out where you stand!  


If you have been involved in an accident and are ready to make a public liability claim, here is a quick checklist to help:

Legal Costs

Legal costs can be expensive, but we will do all we can to help. What we can do includes:

  • Free first interview
  • No charges until you win (in approved cases). Please discuss what this means at our first interview.
  • Paying for medical reports, Court fees, and other expenses (in approved cases).

We will discuss costs in detail with you at our first interview. We will always answer your questions about costs. We will clearly advise you of the total costs when you come to settle your claim, and pride ourselves on being able to be clear as to what you will receive in hand, after payment of costs, before you settle your case.

We're the legal firm that's there for you

Making a claim can be stressful and confusing. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in a public place, do not hesitate to reach out to Arnold Dallas McPherson Injury Lawyers. Our dedicated team is ready to provide you with a free initial consultation to assess your case and discuss your legal options. Let us take the burden off your shoulders and champion your rights while you focus on your recovery.

We provide services on a No Win, No Fee basis and have helped injured Victorians obtain compensation for almost 30 years. If you have been injured in a public transport accident, our experienced lawyers at Arnold Dallas McPherson can guide you through this process, providing you with expert advice and assistance.

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Picture of Emily Lamb

Emily Lamb

Emily Lamb is a dedicated law graduate focusing on all areas of Personal Injury Law. She began her legal career as a paralegal in 2021 and swiftly progressed to become a law graduate in 2023. Emily is set to be admitted to the esteemed Arnold Dallas McPherson Injury Lawyers in March 2024. For Emily, the practice of law is not merely a profession but a means to make a positive impact on the lives of her clients. She believes in ensuring that every client receives their rightful financial entitlements when facing injury, whether it's alleviating medical expenses or seeking justice through compensation in cases of negligence.

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