If you have been injured in a public place because of the negligence of another, you may be entitled to make a public liability claim. Consider, however, that these cases come with their own particular intricacies and very tight time limits. Particularly if your injury is severe, you would be well advised to collect evidence and contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
The basics of a public liability claim
Public liability claims cover accidents that occur in public places, and are not related to your work. (Work accidents are covered by slightly different laws.) Think about roadways, footpaths, parks, rental properties, schools, hotels and entertainment venues. The basic argument is that the person or organization in charge of maintaining the location had the duty to protect members of the public from foreseeable hazards and failed to do that, causing injury.
A typical situation might involve a shopper who fell on a wet floor because no warning sign had been posted. But these situations should not be minimized and may involve injuries far more serious and long-lasting than bruised dignity and a turned ankle.
What to do when you are injured
Proof of an injury or the cause of an injury may be problematic, so gather your evidence promptly.
- If it is possible at the time of your injury, and perhaps even while you are waiting for medical attention, you or a companion should take photographs of the place where the injury occurred and gather contact information from any witnesses.
- Make a record of your recollections of the incident while the details are still fresh in your mind, within the first 20 minutes if possible.
- Seek medical attention immediately, and let your physician know what caused your injury.
- Save all medical records, x-rays, photos of soft tissue injuries and notes about doctor’s advice.
- Save your medical and hospital bills, and receipts for any other expenses you had to incur while recuperating.
- If you were injured by an object, a tape measure dropped from a scaffold, for example, try to take possession of the object.
It is also very important not to compromise any public liability claim you may have by talking to representatives of the property owner’s insurance company or signing any documentation before you speak with your own solicitor. The insurance representatives may very well try to visit with you while you are still hospitalized.
What you may recover
You may seek compensation in a public liability claim for a wide variety of costs, including:
- immediate medical costs, including nursing care,
- future treatment and care costs, including rehabilitation,
- other assistance if you are unable to care for yourself or your home,
- lost income
- future loss of earnings and
- pain and suffering.
Can I do this myself?
Yes, possibly, if your injury is not serious. It would be worth a trip to the solicitor’s office in any event, however, to have a professional evaluation of your claim done. In an arrangement commonly known as “No win/no fee.” solicitors generally do not charge for cases in which they do not win a recovery and do not take cases where costs will exceed any likely award. As a consequence, they often become adept at assessing potential claims, and can advise you quickly about the best way to proceed.
Time is short
The time periods within which claims must be lodged and legal proceedings begun vary from state to state, so you should seek advice that is specific to your situation. However, ordinarily, claimants must lodge a claim form with the person at fault within a few months of the accident. Legal proceedings, in cases that are not resolved through settlement, must begin within a very few years of the accident.
Failing to meet these deadlines may make it impossible for you to bring your claim, at all. It is important to consult a lawyer to make sure your interests are protected.
At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we want you achieve the best possible recovery or settlement in your public liability claim. Call us today at 1 800 770 780 or contact us via [email protected] for a free consultation with a public liability lawyer, so that we may help you bring the strongest claim.