If you've been injured while on private property – whether it was another person’s home or commercial premises – you may be able to claim compensation to help you get back on your feet.
What is meant by 'private property'?The concept of ‘private property’ is most easily understood by comparing it to public property. While private property is owned by either an individual person or corporation, public property is owned by the government.
Examples of private property include residential homes or business premises. This can be compared to public places such as parks, footpaths, beaches and national parks.
When does a duty of care arise?When entering private property, it’s reasonable for you to expect not to be hurt or injured. This means in most circumstances, the duty of care will arise as soon as you enter.
Who owes the duty of care?In most cases, the person who owns the property and the individual occupying it will both owe a duty of care to those who enter the premises. If you’re injured while visiting the property, one or both parties may be responsible depending on the circumstances of your accident.
The responsibilities of a landlord differ to those of an occupier. A landlord’s duty of care includes the obligation to ensure the property is constructed free from defects and to avoid injury, damage or loss when undertaking maintenance or repairs.
The exact nature of a landlord’s duty of care will depend on the state or territory the accident occurred in, as some jurisdictions have specific legislation regulating this. Click here for more information on the duty of care owed by a landlord.
In general, the occupier of private property is responsible for maintaining a safe, hazard-free environment for visitors to the premises.
What does the duty of care entail?Occupiers of private property must take reasonable steps to ensure that entrants are not exposed to a foreseeable risk of harm. If a risk of injury exists, an occupier must take steps to either rectify and remove the risk or warn visitors of the danger.
If there is a foreseeable risk of harm, such as a wet floor, and the occupier has failed to dry the floor or put out visible warning signs, they'll likely be in breach of their duty of care.
What can you do if you were injured on private property?There are certain things you can do straight away to protect your rights to bring a legal claim. These include:
- Recording precise notes on the details of the incident to ensure that you can recall it at a later date
- Obtaining photographs of the place where the incident occurred, or writing a description of the property, circumstances and hazard
- Seeing a medical professional to diagnose and treat any injuries you may have sustained
- Keeping a diary of any symptoms that arise
- Obtaining the contact details of witnesses, and
- Seeking expert legal advice on your rights to compensation.
Bringing a claim for compensationIf you have entered private property and suffered injury, loss or damage, and this was a direct result of the occupier’s failure to maintain a safe environment, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can cover any medical expenses you have incurred, special damages for your particular pain and suffering and lost wages or business revenue.
Your ability to claim compensation is assisted by the fact that most commercial businesses will have public liability insurance, which covers claims of unexpected accidents. Similarly, most individuals will have public liability insurance through their home and contents insurance, even if they’re a tenant.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 6, 2018.