Terrigal NYE explosion: Would public liability laws apply?

Date: Jan 30, 2018

The Terrigal New Year's Eve celebrations went off with a bang, quite literally, on December 31, after an exploding canister caused a domino effect just a few minutes into a fireworks display.

The rogue firework is thought to have gone off in its capsule, igniting other surrounding canisters and setting alight the barge on which they were located. Two fireworks technicians on the boat were forced to jump into the water to escape the blaze but were quickly rescued.

No serious injuries were recorded, but what would have happened if the accident had resulted in widespread casualties? How would public liability laws apply?

Understanding public liability claims

Public liability legislation ensures that people who are hurt due to someone else's negligence can claim compensation for their injuries.

The Civil Liability Act 2002 governs public liability claims in NSW and various incidents are encompassed within the law, including supermarket slips and falls, medical negligence and injuries from faulty products.

A successful public liability claim requires the plaintiff to prove the organisation or individual they are suing owed them a duty of care. Moreover, claimants must show the defendant breached this obligation, resulting in the injuries or illnesses for which compensation is being pursued.

According to the Act, the risk of injury must have been foreseeable and could have reasonably been avoided through proper care and the appropriate preventative measures.

How does this apply to the Terrigal NYE explosion?

While no one was seriously hurt in the Terrigal NYE explosion, anyone injured at the event would likely be eligible to make a public liability claim.

As employees, the fireworks technicians could receive workers compensation payments, or – if negligence was proven – work injury damages.

People attending the event may have been entitled to public liability compensation if they were seriously hurt. It is probable that the event organiser would owe members of the general public a duty of care.

Proving this obligation had been breached through negligent behaviour would require careful analysis of the available evidence and testimony from experts.

Was the risk of a faulty canister foreseeable? If so, did the organiser take appropriate measures to minimise the chance of injuries occurring? Were attendees warned of the risks they faced?

These are just some of the questions that a judge may need to consider if the Terrigal NYE explosion had led to serious casualties. 

If you'd like to know more about public liability claims or have recently injured yourself due to someone else's negligence, please contact our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

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