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A Guide to Restaurant Negligence Claims

When heading to a restaurant, you trust that the establishment will provide a safe experience. You trust that the food will be hygienically prepared and that the premises are properly maintained without hazards. 

Unfortunately, this trust is commonly broken with dining out ending in harm. If you’ve become injured at — or ill because of — a restaurant’s negligence, you may have grounds for a compensation claim.

Read on to learn about restaurant injury claims: types of claims, the legal process and your potential entitlements.

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Public liability claims: An overview

It’s important to define what a public liability claim is as it works to define who is at fault for a restaurant injury and what the associated legal processes are. 

A restaurant injury claim falls under the umbrella of public liability claims. In essence, a public liability claim is predicated on the legal obligations of public premises owners to ensure the safety of those who use their space. This legal obligation is also referred to as their ‘duty of care.’

Therefore, public liability claims lawyers work to prove the following:

  • The owner of the public space did owe a duty of care to the injured/ill individual (i.e., a duty of care may not be present if the injured person was on the premises illegally or if they were intentionally engaging in a dangerous activity).
  • The owner breached their duty of care.
  • This breach directly resulted in injury or illness. 


So, if you’ve been injured because of another’s breach of their duty of care, consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later.

Book an appointment with our expert team

Types of restaurant negligence

Before we cover types of restaurant injuries that warrant a compensation claim, it’s important to understand that the success of a public liability claim hinges on whether an individual or institution responsible for maintaining a safe environment acted negligently. 

Consider a restaurant slip, for example: If a restaurant worker forgets to place a warning sign on a slippery floor and this surface causes a fall accident, then this is a case of negligence. On the other hand, if the staff promptly placed a warning sign after noticing the slippery floor, it may not be considered negligence. This is because reasonable steps were taken to address the potential hazard and therefore fault may be placed on the injured person.  

With that in mind, here are types of restaurant negligence that commonly lead to compensation claims: 

  • Foodborne illnesses: While all those who visit a restaurant expect food that is safe for consumption, an establishment may act negligently through improper food handling, storage, serving and the failure to inform custom food allergens, among others.
  • Unsafe premises: It’s the role of restaurant owners to ensure the safety of their patrons. In alignment with safety regulations, this may include providing adequate lighting, regular maintenance and the secure storage of equipment.
  • Improper training: To ensure the safety of both staff and patrons, restaurant owners need to ensure all workers are properly trained on how to perform their duties safely. This may include training relating to food handling, equipment operating and risk mitigation more generally.
  • Unregulated alcohol serving: While state legislation differs slightly, restaurants are generally unable to sell alcohol to those who are visibly intoxicated. The same is true for those who are under 18 years old. If a restaurant violates these regulations and serves alcohol illegally, it’s considered a form of negligence and may warrant a compensation claim if an injury occurs as a result. 


Other common causes of restaurant injury claims include faulty equipment, lack of sanitation and subpar security measures.

Do you want to learn more about filing a restaurant injury claim?

Call us for confidential, free advice.

Making a public liability compensation claim: The process

If you’re considering pursuing a public liability compensation claim, there are two initial steps to take. Firstly, gather any information that you can to support your claim. While not all evidence will be attainable whether for financial or accessibility reasons, simply gather what you’re able to. This may include photos or videos of the incident scene, witness contact details and/or statements, records of medical expenses related to your injury and records of associated financial losses. 

Secondly, bring those records to your free consultation with your personal injury lawyer. It’s during your consultation that your solicitor will assess the merit of your case based on the available information, answer any questions you may have and advise you on the best pathways forward. 

If you decide to move forward with your compensation claim, you may proceed with a private settlement agreement — via mediation — or litigation.

Mediation: This is the process where a neutral third party facilitates discussions between parties with the intention of reaching a mutually agreeable settlement agreement. Mediation may take as little as a few hours or extend across several days — or, more unusually, weeks — in more complex cases. The mutual agreements that arise from mediation are legally binding and more often than not provide a more cost- and time-effective solution compared to litigation. 

Litigation: This is the process where the dispute is taken to court and the settlement outcome falls into the hands of a judge or jury. Similar to mediation, your personal injury lawyer communicates the relevant evidence and advocates for your rights — yet within a more structured setting when compared to private settlements. 

Usually, mediation is both a prerequisite for litigation while also being the preferred method for those who undertake a personal injury claim. Regardless of how your claim progresses, it’s the role of your solicitor to keep you informed at each step of the process and to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. 

Book an appointment with our expert team of personal injury solicitors

Restaurant injury claims compensation expectations

The specifics on how much you’re entitled to can depend on your state-specific legislation. Generally speaking, your injuries will be weighed against the most significant restaurant injury claim and compensation will be determined accordingly.

Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may be entitled to claim for economic and/or non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to financial losses (present and potential future losses) that are directly associated with the injury or illness. This may include the cost of medication, doctor visits, rehabilitation services and equipment, transportation and other related expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refers to the injured person’s pain and suffering.

Naturally, pain and suffering are more ambiguous than economic damages — this is because medical bills can be easily quantified while the mental health implications of an injury are less easily measurable. Nonetheless, non-economic damages include any type of suffering — as diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional — that impairs the injured person’s day-to-day life. This may include depression, anxiety, PTSD and/or other possible mental health disorders. 

Each state has its own compensation caps for non-economic loss governed by its respective Civil Liability legislation. New South Wales has a pain and suffering cap of $722,000 for the ‘Most Extreme Case’ (MEC), while Queensland’s cap sits at $430,010. Each state differs in the way it determines compensation amount eligibility. 

During your free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers, you’ll gain personalised advice based on the specifics of your case on what compensation you may be entitled to based on your state’s specific legislation.


Can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning?

The short answer: Most likely.

Restaurants are legally obligated to ensure that the food they serve is safe for consumption. If you believe that a restaurant has acted negligently by serving you contaminated food that has led to your sickness, then you may have grounds for a compensation claim. 

However, such cases require proving negligence, causation and a breach of both their duty of care and relevant regulations. Speak with a restaurant injury lawyer for personalised advice and to be advised on the merit of your case. 

How do I start the claims process for a café or restaurant injury claim?

There are two initial steps to take:

  1. Gather any evidence that you can to support your case. This may include medical records, a record of lost income, CCTV footage, a written account of the incident, witness statements and the contact details of the establishment. While many forms of evidence will be difficult or situationally impossible to get without a solicitor, simply gather what you’re able to.
  2. Book a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. 


From there, you’ll be informed on the merit of your case, the best pathways forward and the next steps if you’re to choose to pursue a compensation claim. 

Will I need to go to court in a restaurant injury claim?


While most claims are resolved in a private settlement, particularly complex claims or those that are unable to reach a settlement during mediation may then be brought before the court. It’s important to have legal representation that you trust to both keep you informed and competently uphold your rights throughout the full legal process.

Book a free consultation with a public liability claims solicitor

To make our legal services accessible, we offer our clients our no-win, no-fee policy. This means that:

  • We only get paid if your case is successful.
  • We take on all case-related expenses, including court fees, expert witness fees and any other necessary disbursements. 

This means that you can gain a trusted solicitor who specialises in public liability law without any financial burdens. At GMP Law, we work to ensure that your rights are protected and upheld; we provide our clients with committed, compassionate and competent legal services, leading to you obtaining the compensation you deserve. 

Book a free, non-obligation consultation with a restaurant injury claims lawyer today. 

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About Us
Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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