Obtaining compensation for intentional acts of violence in Queensland

Published 22 Feb 2016

Practice Area: Slip & Fall Public Liability Claims, Work Related Accident Claims

  • An intentional act of violence which is inflicted by a person which involves direct, intentional or wilful invasion of the physical or mental capacity of that person is called an intentional tort.
  • The three major intentional torts are assault, battery and false imprisonment.
  • The rationale behind intentional torts is that the wrongdoer must compensate the victim for the infliction of harm, loss and damage which the victim suffers as a result.
  • Many States within Australia have legislation which exclude intentional acts which cause injury to a person and therefore exclude the limitation of the awards of damages for these acts.
  • This is not the case in Queensland.
  • The Civil Liability Act 2003 (QLD) provides the provisions for all claims for injury or damage.
  • Section 4 of the act headed “Application of Act” states that subject to section 5 of the act this act applies to all civil claims for damages for harm.
  • The exceptions in section 5 of the act include workers compensation claims, dust disease claims and injuries from the use of tobacco products and smoke.
  • This means irrespective motivation, and mechanism of the injury the damages provisions and subsequent limitations of the Civil Liability Act will apply to all personal injury damages claims.
  • It should be noted however that exemplary, punitive or aggravated damages which are otherwise abolished by section 52 (1) of the act.
  • Nevertheless section 52 (2) (a) of the act allows these damages to be claimed in the case of unlawful intentional act done with intent to cause personal injury.
  • There seems to be very little cases considering the interpretation of his however it seems very similar to the wording found in the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW).
  • The NSW case of White v Johnson (2015) found that while the test is two staged; the act must be intentional and with the intent to cause injury or death. This is not necessarily the case and that the tort may still be considered intentional even if it is made without the intent to cause harm.
  • Too conclude unlike the vast majority of Australia States, in Queensland intentional torts are covered and limited by the States civil liability legislation. The upside of this is that the act expressly does not abolish  exemplary, punitive or aggravated damages for intentional torts.