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Professional negligence claims
Featuring: Senior Associate, Charles Lethbridge

Abuse Victims Given Hope by QLD & NSW Governments Decision to Extend Limitation Period for claims

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The Queensland Government has joined the NSW state government with removing the usual 3 year limitation period that applies to personal injury claims arising from abuse at various institutions within Queensland.

The Queensland Government decision has given fresh hope to the many child abuse survivors who were appallingly treated at various government and church based institutions in Queensland. Similarly, the NSW Government has enacted similar legislation in order to remove one of the main obstacles for abuse survivors to obtain compensation.

Historically, even abuse survivors who had excellent claims against the government or the churches who ran the orphanages and other homes were blocked by the 3 year limitation period for personal injury claims which runs from the person’s 18th birthday. In many cases the abuse victims did not understand or know about their rights to bring a claim in relation to the abuse that they suffered earlier in their lives. For many people, the abuse did not even surface as a reason for their behaviour or difficult lives until they received proper professional help. In many cases, the abuse victims themselves had either buried the memories or did not link their various personality problems with the abuse that they suffered. There is also the issue of accurately remembering all of the details when they were younger and the lack of any surviving witnesses or people who might be able to corroborate their experiences.

Although there were various redress schemes implemented by previous governments and certain class actions taken against various institutions, not all victims knew about these processes and have missed out. In any event, it is arguable that the meagre compensation received in the redress schemes was completely inadequate to properly compensate victims of this terrible abuse.

Some examples of the institutions are the Neerkol orphanage in North Queensland where shocking details of abuse were revealed. The only applicant to bring a claim against Neerkol had their claim dismissed because it was brought out of time and the court did not accept the victim’s explanation for the delay in bringing proceedings. There have also been accusations made by previous students at Nazareth House in the Brisbane suburb of Wynnum in Queensland. The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse also found abuse occurring in many Catholic schools and other institutions where the incidents were either covered up or the perpetrators were not properly brought to justice.

Attwood Marshall have acted for many abuse victims in the past and have a number of clients who will be bringing claims as a result of the proposed removal of the limitation period. We accept these claims on a “no win no fee” basis in circumstances where the clients have good prospects of success in their claim, including recovery of any possible damages that may be recovered.

We offer a free initial consultation for anyone thinking of bringing proceedings for prior physical or sexual abuse. Please call our department manager Kelli Costin on direct line 07 5506 8220 or email kcostin@attwoodmarshall.com.au or free call 1800 621 071. Our staff have experience in these claims and will treat all enquiries with strict confidentiality, compassion and understanding.

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