Most people are aware that you can claim compensation for workplace accident or motor vehicle accidents, but what are the rules when you suffer injuries at the home of a friend, neighbour, or acquaintance? Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Partner and QLS Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, Jeremy Roche, discusses what you need to do to seek legal advice if you are injured on private or public property.
Can you still claim compensation for your injury? How does it affect the owner?
Home owners in QLD and NSW usually hold ‘home and contents’ insurance over their property. These insurance policies contain ‘public liability insurance’ that cover people who are injured at the property in certain circumstances:
To make a ‘public liability’ compensation claim for injuries sustained at someone else’s home:
(a) You must have suffered injury in an incident at someone else’s home;
(b) The incident must have been caused by:
- Negligence on the part of the property owner/controller; or
- An unsafe situation that was caused or contributed to by the property owner/controller; or
- A failure by the property owner to make reasonable attempts to prevent the hazard/risk that led to your injury.
Hundreds of injured people fail to make compensation claims that are available to them because they are scared that it might negatively affect the owner of the premises.
However, the property owner will NOT be personally liable for a claim that you make against them. The insurance company that has insured the property is the party that responds to the claim and pays out compensation – it does not come from the pockets of the property owner(s) themselves.
Eg: Sally’s house is 20 years old and can only be accessed by walking across the front outdoor tiles to the front door. Over time, various people who have come to Sally’s house have slipped on the slippery tiles and sometimes fallen. Sally knew of people slipping on the tiles and have often slipped herself. However, she did nothing about it – even when someone suggested that she simply spray some non-stick coating on the tiles.
One night, Sally invited her friend Timothy around for tea. Timothy walked across the tiles towards Sally’s front door when he suddenly slipped on the tiles and fell, breaking his wrist and twisting his ankle. Timothy was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery on his broken wrist. He was then off work for the next three months and continued to incur numerous medical bills for medication, physiotherapy, GP review and acupuncture. He also fell behind in mortgage payments.
With assistance from Attwood Marshall, Timothy was able to lodge a ‘public liability’ claim for compensation against the insurance company that insured Sally’s home. A ‘slip test’ was conducted which found that the tiles were slippery and unsafe, and not in accordance with current Australian Standards.
It was determined that Sally was aware of a potential hazard to entrants of her property, yet failed to reasonably act to rectify the hazard so as to prevent injury to persons on her property.
The insurance company was ordered to pay Timothy a significant lump sum compensation payout for general damages, past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future care/assistance.