Public Liability refers to an occupier's duty to ensure premises are reasonably safe for people who may enter on the property. An occupier is any person or other entity (and there may be several) which is in control of land, premises or a structure.
In accordance with the above definition, injuries arising out of slips, trips or falls, recreational and sporting pastimes and falls on public or private properties, can all result in claims against one of more occupiers of those premises.
What do I need to prove?
Firstly, you will need to consider whether the occupier of the premises/property owed you a duty of care. In most cases this is generally a simple process as occupiers in many circumstances, particularly commercial enterprises, must ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for entrants.
Secondly, you will need to prove that the duty of care owed to you by the occupier has been breached. Investigations will need to be made in relation to any failure which resulted in the duty of care being breached. For example, it may include proving that a spill on which you slipped or other dangerous feature on the premises was present for an unreasonable length of time or that the occupier was aware or ought to have been aware of a defect in the premises.
Thirdly, you will need to prove that as a result of the failure to take reasonable care you suffered an injury. This will require medical evidence from your treating doctors and, in some cases, from independent specialists who will assess your injuries.
What am I entitled to?
The amount of compensation you are entitled to can include the following:
- Pain and suffering – the amount of damages is determined by comparing your injury to a most extreme case of injury. There is an upper limit payable for a most extreme case of injury, which sets a maximum that can be awarded, but there is also a minimum threshold which you must reach in order to be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
- Loss of income – any time you have taken off work as a result of your injury, or losses likely to occur in the future, can be claimed. It will be necessary to gather evidence to prove both the past loss of wages and the likelihood that you will suffer a loss in the future.
- Treatment expenses – you can claim any reasonable and necessary past treatment costs and any future surgery/treatment you will require if it has been caused by the accident.
- Domestic assistance and personal care – it is often the case that these injuries can incapacitate you from completing your household chores or requires providing you with personal care (for example, assistance with showering, dressing or shaving). Any assistance you have required, either unpaid from family and friends, or in commercial circumstances where you pay for the assistance, can be claimed.
Are there any time limits?
Yes. You have 3 years from the date your cause of action was discoverable to commence proceedings. If proceedings are not commenced within the 3 year limitation period you will not be able to commence or maintain proceedings. If you are concerned that your claim may fall outside the 3 year limitation period, we strongly recommend that you obtain legal advice without delay.
What are the legal costs?
At Marsdens we conduct these cases, on a no win/no pay basis in relation to payment of our professional costs. This means that you do not pay our legal fees for the time spent preparing your case until the conclusion of the matter and then only if your claim is successful.
In relation to expenses, which primarily relate to the cost of obtaining clinical notes and expert reports, Marsdens have a database of experienced medical and other experts who provide reports of high quality. We will discuss with you the likely cost of reports and if necessary make arrangements for payment if you are experiencing financial difficulty.
Will I have to go to Court?
It is often in the best interests of all parties to negotiate with the view to settling the claim prior to the matter proceeding to Court.
In some matters it may be necessary to commence Court proceedings and proceed to Court if a reasonable settlement cannot be achieved. In the end, the aim is to maximize the compensation you receive and sometimes the best way to do that is to go to Court.
You can rest assured that you will be well prepared for your Court hearing with time spent with you reviewing and discussing your evidence including with our experienced barristers.
Is instructing a Marsdens solicitor really necessary?
It is our experience that the claim process is much less stressful and more accessible if you have a solicitor managing it for you. The early collection of evidence and information is essential to the success of your claim. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to get the right documents, what law is applicable and whether your claim is worthwhile pursuing.
Instructing a Marsdens solicitor means that you have an experienced professional who will look out for your best interests, consider your circumstances and assist you in the most efficient and beneficial way possible. We aim to provide a personal service with a demonstrated commitment to our clients.