If you are injured while on private property in Cairns or anywhere else in Queensland, you may be able to claim compensation for loss of income and the cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Where, when and how the injury occurred will all be significant factors to your case. Here is what to consider when bringing a claim for compensation.
How is 'private property' defined?
‘Private property’ relates to ownership of the property by an individual or corporation. For example, a house or the premises of a business.
Private property does not include government-owned, public places such as national parks, footpaths or beaches.
The owner of the property owes a duty of care to those who enter the property.
What is a "duty of care"?
Duty of care is a responsibility that the owners and/or occupiers of private property must bear. Part of having a duty of care means being required to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone who enters the property is not exposed to a risk of harm. The type of risk that must be minimised is ‘foreseeable’ risk, such as ensuring floorboards are even and secure or that stairs are clearly marked and, where appropriate, have sturdy balustrades.
Any foreseeable risk of injury needs to be rectified by the occupier of the property to ensure that risk is removed or, at the bare minimum, warns any visitors of the risk. Warnings of risk may include ‘wet floor’ signs for freshly-mopped surfaces.
When does it arise?
Generally, a duty of care arises as soon as a visitor enters private property, because upon entry it is reasonable for visitors to hold the expectation that they will not be injured while on the premises.
Who owes it?
A duty of care is generally owed by both the owner of the property and the occupier. If these parties are not the same (i.e., the occupier is renting from the owner) then the responsibilities will differ.
Part of the owner of the property (the landlord)’s duty of care is to ensure that the property is in sound condition and is free from any defects that might cause injury, damage or loss.
The occupier has a duty of care that extends to maintaining an environment that is safe and free from hazards that may pose a risk to any visitor to the property.
What should you do if you are injured while on private property?
If you are injured while on private property you should take the following steps in case you need to bring a claim for compensation:
- make a record of key details pertaining to the incident such as the time, place and date and how the incident occurred;
- ask any witnesses to record their account of what happened to cause the incident;
- take photos or videos of where the incident occurred, including any that will help contextualise the exact place the incident happened in and any hazards that led to the incident;
- seek medical attention from your GP (or a hospital emergency department if the injuries are severe) as soon as possible after the incident; and
- keep a record of any new symptoms that arise as a result of the injury after you have sought treatment.
Rights to compensation
You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered an injury, loss or damage while on private property that was caused as a direct result of the occupier’s negligence in providing a safe environment.
Compensation for injury, loss or damage experienced under these circumstances may be in the form of reimbursement for wages or business revenue that was lost due to your inability to work, expenses incurred (such as medical costs) or damages for pain and suffering.
The insurance policy that covers these types of injuries is public liability insurance. If you are injured in a home, the owner or tenant may have public liability insurance through their home and contents cover or if your injury occurs in a privately-owned but public space (such as a business) the claim would be brought to the business’ public liability insurer.
If you have been injured while on private property and would like to bring a claim for compensation, contact our personal injury lawyers in Cairns who can assist you with the process.