Is it better to settle a public liability claim privately?

PUBLISHED 15 Dec 2019

A public liability claim allows you to be compensated if you’re injured in a public space, like a park, office, government building, or shopping centre. Places like these have a duty of care or responsibility to the general public. If you’re injured in a public space, you can file a claim for compensation to recoup your losses. This is paid out by the mandatory insurance policy covering the public space.

Each state and territory has its own legislation on what constitutes compensatory damages for public liability cases. These largely overlap from one jurisdiction to the next, and most include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past and future loss of earnings, including loss of superannuation contributions
  • Cost of other assistance needed due to injury

Since a public liability claim requires a court proceeding to determine fault and the compensation amount, many entities will typically offer an out-of-court settlement.

Weighing the need for a settlement

The biggest factor driving your decision on whether to settle a public liability claim privately or in a court comes down to a few factors.

As mentioned above, whatever settlement the court might order will cover the compensatory damages you incurred. If the party you’ve either filed suit against or are contemplating filing suit again has offered a satisfactory monetary amount to compensate you for your damages – i.e., they cover the medical expenses or past and future loss of earnings, etc – then it could be better to accept the settlement in private.

While specialists can reasonably calculate medical expenses and future loss of earnings, pinning a specific number on one’s pain and suffering caused by the incident is a little trickier.

The insurance company, with its team of lawyers, will do their best to avoid paying out as much money as possible. That being the case, the insurance company might significantly undervalue what you think is appropriate compensation.

Taking your public liability case to trial might end up netting you a larger compensation. At the same time, even with rock-solid evidence, there’s always the chance the court does not find in your favor.

Making a choice about whether to settle a public liability claim privately requires legal expertise to come to an informed decision. Speak to the public liability lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners to learn more about settling a public liability claim privately or taking it to trial.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.