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Public Liability Claims

Whether a large corporation or small business owner, running a business is stressful enough without having to worry about defending claims when a member of the public, a customer or contractor is hurt whilst on your premises or as a result of a defective product or exposure to a dangerous chemical.

When something does go wrong, Work Health & Safety breaches may also occur and you could end up defending a potential prosecution, WorkCover recovery or responding to a Coronial inquiry.

These claims are often not just about slip and falls but might include:

  • Nervous shock, an ongoing disability or disease and, in the worst case, death
  • False arrest, wrongful detention or imprisonment, or malicious prosecution
  • Assaults
  • Libel, slander or defamation of character.

Unfortunately some claims are also subject to fabrication, exaggeration and fraud.

Any of these incidents and subsequent claims can impact upon brand and business reputation and cost significant amounts to resolve.

For any business faced with these actions, it is crucial to identify and understand how these risks can be minimised and prevented in the future. For insurers, it is essential that these claims are dealt with quickly, commercially and competently by experts that understand all the stakeholders’ needs.

At W+K, we specialise in investigating and defending public liability claims and have extensive knowledge of the specific liability issues that arise in many sectors such as Hotels, Pubs & Clubs, Retail Shopping, Fast Food chains, Sports & leisure, Facilities Management and Cleaning Contractors, government facilities and many more.

PIPA claims

More than just specialists in Public Liability claims, our Brisbane based team are experienced in acting for insurers and their insured clients in personal injury claims brought under the pre-action process prescribed by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld)(PIPA).

Pacific Islands claims

Our New Zealand team also handles claims from the Pacific Islands. An example where we have provided assistance in a particularly sensitive claim in the Pacific Islands was where we defended a resort in a personal injury case after security guards sexually assaulted a guest.

Some of the Public Liability claims that we have successfully defended or have mitigated our clients’ exposure include:

Slip and fall involving an elevator

Successfully defending a claim by a plaintiff who claimed he tripped and fell over a displacement that formed between an elevator’s terminal landing and the ground floor of a building. The allegations related to poor maintenance, defective servicing and a failure to rectify known performance issues with the elevator.

Construction industry claims

Defending claims against developers, scaffolders, principals, sub-contractors, lower-tier sub-contractors, crane operators, riggers and form workers.

W+K successfully represented contractors in two leading Australian authorities relevant to duties owed by head contractors and sub-contractors on a construction site: Leighton Contractors v Fox; Calliden Insurance Limited v Fox [2009] HCA 35 and Paul Minogue v David Rudd [2013] NSWCA 34

Industrial injury claims

Acting on matters involving claims by workers and related WorkCover recovery actions, including a crush injury resulting from a defective gantry crane, injuries caused by defective mechanical equipment and componentry such as guarding, a metal press tool that failed and dangerous site conditions at a refinery which resulted in significant injury following a contractor fall.

Marine injury claims

Successfully resolving a complex marine injury claim involving multiple indemnity issues, including in respect of P&I club insurance and a ‘Lambert leasing’ type dual insurance scenario.