What if more than one defendant is responsible for my injuries?

Published 04 Dec 2017

Practice Area: Slip & Fall Public Liability Claims

Public liability claims are often complicated, but a judge's job is usually made harder when there are multiple defendants that could be deemed negligent.

For example, you may suffer a slip, trip or fall in a Queensland supermarket that leads to serious injuries. Who is to blame for the accident? The supermarket is the occupier of the premises, but another organisation may own the building.

Furthermore, a contractor who was only employed on the site temporarily may have contributed to your accident. Should their firm also be involved? What if they were working for the business on behalf of another agency?

We can see how easily a relatively simple accident on the surface can quickly become difficult to untangle.

Who do I sue?

Under the Civil Liability Act 2003 (QLD), a proportionate liability regime applies. This means that a plaintiff wishing to sue an individual or organisation must track down all the parties that they believe are responsible for their economic losses.

Fortunately, Section 28 of Part 2 of the Act provides an exemption for personal injury claims. In other words, if you are hurt in an accident due to someone else's negligence, you won't have to identify and sue each defendant.

Instead, the organisation you are making the claim against may decide to pursue other potential defendants for contributions towards a settlement or award of damages.

Nevertheless, this is a complex area of law and you should seek advice from experienced public liability claim lawyers before proceeding with your case.

How do I make a claim?

The Personal Injury Proceedings Act (PIPA) 2002 governs injury-related claims in Queensland.

You must first inform the party whom you think is responsible for your accident that you intend to claim damages. This is done via Part 1 and Part 2 notices and there are strict time limits for sending these forms.

After receiving your Part 1 notice, the respondent must get back to you within one month. If they are not the appropriate respondent - or not the only respondent - they should provide information regarding other relevant parties.

What happens in court?

Most cases don't reach the courtroom; they are either settled early or via mediation.

However, you should be prepared for your case to go before a judge. If your claim is successful and there are multiple defendants, the judge may apportion liability between them based on their level of negligence.

For example, a $100,000 compensation payment may be split 75:25 between a supermarket and a building owner, respectively, if they both owed you a duty of care, but the shop was more responsible for your accident.

We understand that public liability claims can seem daunting, so please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free and confidential consultation on your case.