28 July 2021

Public liability in Australia is a type of compensation claim that can usually be taken out against a public liability insurer if a person has suffered a physical or psychological injury due to negligence. It is important to note that public liability claims cover a wide range of incidents and do not necessarily need to take place in a public area to amount to a public liability claim. Public Liability claims are pursued through the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW).

Some examples of public liability claims include:

  • Accidents such as slipping on a wet surface or tripping over an obstruction which results in physical injury.
  • Sustaining a physical injury due to an item that is broken or faulty.
  • Injuries sustained from hazards like chemicals, burns or illness from poisoning.
  • Injuries from an animal attack.
  • Lack of supervision claims.

Injuries can take place in a wide range of environments including parks, sporting arenas, bars, schools, hotels and even rental properties. Some of the most common types of public liability claims made in New south Wales include:

Animal Attack Claim

An animal’s owner is responsible for the actions of their pets, particularly if they cause physical harm to another person. The owner is liable to pay for compensation claims if their pet attacked and injured a person, with two main exceptions: (1) they may not be liable if the animal was intentionally provoked and (2) they may not be liable if the victim was illegally on private property or in the vehicle of the owner.

Business Premises Claim

Public liability claims can be taken out against a business if the physical or psychological injury occurred on the business’ premises as a result of the occupier’s negligence. Common incidents include slips and falls due to hazards such as misplaced objects or slippery floors.

Rental Property Claim

A property’s landlord is responsible for offering a safe environment for tenants to live in. If tenants do sustain an injury due to the negligence of the owner they may be able to make a public liability claim. Most claims are caused by a broken, faulty or unsafe piece of the property resulting in the injury of a tenant, such as a broken piece of flooring causing a fall.

Lack of Supervision

Businesses can be held responsible for injuries caused by the negligent supervision of persons in their care. Common examples include insufficient number of staff to supervise in childcare or failing to properly supervise and train contactors performing dangerous duties.

Public Space Claim

Finally, we have the most obvious type of public liability claims, those that occur in public places such as parks, footpaths, sporting arenas or schools. If the injury was caused by the negligence of a third party with a duty of care, then the victim may be eligible to make a claim against the public liability insurer.

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