melbourne Office P: +61 3 9604 7922

Kathy O’Neill

Senior Associate


About Kathy

Kathy works across Wotton + Kearney's General Liability team in Melbourne, with a particular focus in property damage and public and product liability claims. She defends claims against building owners and occupiers, product manufacturers, schools, owners corporations and building professionals.

Kathy has experience with large scale litigation including class actions arising from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. She is also involved in subrogated recovery actions on behalf of insurers for damage to property. Kathy's specialised focus in public liability has seen her become heavily involved in claims against public sector entities, the Police, and the Roads & Maritime Service. Her experience also extends to medical negligence claims, including appearing in coronial inquests.

Kathy is an active member of W+K's Community Footprint Program and recently made a pro bono application to the High Court on behalf of a refugee to seek orders preventing his removal from Australia.

Prior to her admission, Kathy spent 4 years working as a Judge's Associate in the New South Wales Supreme Court and a further 6 years as the Executive Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the NSW Bar Association.  Before joining W+K she practised for 3 years in the insurance litigation department of a large commercial law firm in Sydney.

Areas of Expertise

  • General Liability
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability & Recall
  • Property Damage (3rd Party)
  • Subrogation & Recoveries
  • Community & Pro Bono

Industry Representation

  • Consumer Goods
  • Construction & Infrastructure
  • Energy & Mining
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Property & Real Estate
  • Public Sector/Education
  • Sports, Leisure & Entertainment

Kathy's Experience

  • Acting for a large electricity distributor in respect of property damage claims arising out of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. The claims involved technical expert evidence and novel legal issues, particularly around damages. Over 250 claims for property damage and personal injury were lodged with the majority now resolved.
  • Acting in a large subrogated recovery for insurers of a high-rise building in relation to defective cladding.
  • Acting for a manufacturer of asbestos products in the defence of personal injury claims nationally, including estate and dependency claims.
  • Defending a variety of insureds in respect of public liability and property damage claims including claims against both occupiers and cleaners for injuries to patrons of shopping centres, against electricity network owners/distributors arising from slips/trips on assets, gas explosions and bushfires. Kathy manages the day to day conduct of these files, provides strategic advice to the client, conducts negotiations and represents clients at mediations.
  • Defending public and products liability claims in VCAT including claims under the Water Act, Domestic Building Contracts Act, and management liability disputes involving Owners Corporations.
  • Acting for schools in personal injury claims brought by school age students for injuries sustained whilst using playground and sports equipment, as well as bullying and harassment claims by school students.
    Large scale commercial litigation defence.

Professional Affiliations

  • Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA)
  • Australian Professional Indemnity Group (APIG)
  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • The Association of Women in Insurance
  • Victorian Claims Discussion Group

Publications