Guide to the Queensland Civil Liability Act

The QLD Civil Liability Act provides legal guidelines to determine responsibility when something goes wrong, ensuring injured people get adequate compensation for their losses. But what does it take to be held liable under this act?
Scales of justice for the Queensland Civil Liability Act

Understanding the Queensland Civil Liability Act

The Civil Liability Act, a comprehensive legislation, governs and regulates civil liability in Queensland. These essential laws provide the guidelines for civil liability claims, also known as personal injury claims. Liability laws give you the right to pursue legal damages when another person’s or party’s negligence results in a physical or psychological injury. If this is your situation, we recommend that you have some knowledge of how the Act functions, regardless of whether you are seeking compensation (the plaintiff) or the defendant.

First, you should know that the Civil Liability Act provides legal guidelines to determine responsibility when something goes wrong, ensuring injured people get adequate compensation for their losses. But what does it take to be held liable under this Act? What is considered when assessing damages? Read on to discover how the QCLA shapes liability and affects your rights as an injured party.

To start our guide to understanding the Queensland Civil Liability Act, we cover – what is personal injury liability.

What is Personal Injury Liability?

Personal injury liability basically means responsibility. When a person or entity causes you harm in an accident where you were wholly or partly not to blame, civil liability legislation gives you the right to seek legal damages, otherwise known as compensation.

Learn more about claiming for personal injuries >

What is meant by “harm”?

Under civil liability legislation, “harm” is defined as damage of any kind, including:

  • physical or psychological personal injury
  • wrongful death
  • property damage
  • financial loss

An Overview of the Queensland Civil Liability Act

The Queensland Civil Liability Act (QCLA) specifies the guidelines for determining fault and compensatory damages in property damage or personal injury cases. This critical piece of legislation defines:

  • the type of compensation an injured party can recover from the responsible party
  • how damages are calculated.

Furthermore, the QCLA considers many factors when determining whether someone is legally liable, such as causation, the duty of care breach, obvious risk, statutory duty, scope of liability and inherent risk.

What is the Purpose of the QLD Civil Liability Act?

The Queensland Civil Liability Act (QCLA) aims to protect the legal right to fair compensation for people injured by another’s negligent behaviour. This important civil legislation:

  1. Protects injured parties from suffering further financial losses by holding the at-fault party accountable for any psychological or physical harm.
  2. It acts as a deterrent, encouraging people to take reasonable precautions when participating in activities that could harm others or their property.

Whether you are harmed on the road, in a public place, or engaging in a recreational activity, the QCLA sets out the common law principles of handling personal injury claims and admissions of liability, as well as awards for damages under the law of negligence.

In short, this legislation ensures that victims who have been wrongfully injured or suffered property damage due to someone else’s irresponsible actions can receive adequate and appropriate compensation.

Next up, in our guide to the Queensland Civil Liability Act, we outline the main elements of these civil laws.

What Kinds of Personal Injury Claims are Covered by the QCLA?

Most types of personal injury claims, except those covered by workers’ compensation legislation, are within the scope of the Queensland Civil Liability Act, including:

What are the common types of compensation claims? >

Which personal injuries are eligible for compensation? >

What is my claim worth?

What Types of Injuries are Not Covered by the Act?

Not all personal injuries are covered by the QCLA, with the following exclusions being:

  1. Workplace injuries payable under the WorkCover Queensland Act 1996
  2. Injury compensation is payable under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
  3. Injury claims for a dust-related condition.
  4. Damage arising from using tobacco products, smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke.

How is the Queensland Civil Liability Act Structured?

There are two primary sections to the Queensland Civil Liability Act.

Section 1. Legislation relating to Civil Liability for Injuries

  1. Breach of Duty
  2. Proportionate Liability
  3. Liability of the public, other authorities, and volunteers
  4. Exclusion from claiming damages because of a particular behaviour.

 Section 2. Assessment of Personal Injury Damages

More about public liability duty of care >

More about workplace duty of care >

What is Covered by the Act? Types of Damages Awarded for Personal Injury Claims

The Queensland Civil Liability Act (QCLA) is an extensive piece of legislation that sets out the general principles of liability and damages for personal injury claims. Under the QCLA, an injured person has the legal right to seek damages from those responsible for their injuries if they can prove that someone else’s negligence caused their injury. The act also sets out specific rules around duty of care, breach of duty and causation between the breach and the harm suffered.

In addition to these basic principles, the QCLA also outlines what types of damages may be awarded to an injured party as compensation for their losses. This means when you have a successful personal injury claim, you be paid compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings and pain and suffering.

Please understand that each case has unique circumstances that determine the type and amount of damages awarded in any given case. Nevertheless, when you have some understanding of the scope of liability under the QCLA, it can help provide clarity when seeking compensation for personal injuries caused by an owed duty failure.

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What are the Main Elements of the Civil Liability Act?

The Civil Liability Act contains several crucial provisions in determining liability and compensation in civil liability claims. Here are some of the main elements of the Act:

Duty of Care

The Act defines the duty of care a person or organisation owes to others. It outlines the parameters for assessing whether a duty of care exists and the scope of that duty.

Contributory Negligence

The Act also legislates for contributory negligence, which applies when the plaintiff has contributed to their own injury or loss. If you were partly to blame for your accident, the Act covers how courts should consider contributory negligence when assessing liability and compensation.

Limitations on Damages

The Act also limits the amount of damages that can be awarded in a civil liability claim, including injury claims. It sets out specific thresholds for different types of injuries and the maximum amount to be awarded.

Civil Liability of Public Authorities

The Civil Liability Act also addresses the liability of public authorities, such as government departments and local councils. It outlines the circumstances in which they can be held liable for negligence and the conditions for suing them.

What do you need to prove for a successful civil liability claim?

There are 4 elements you need to prove to have a successful civil liability claim in Queensland.

First, you must prove that the other party owed you a legal duty of care and that they breached this duty by failing to exercise reasonable care.

Second, you need to show that the duty violation caused your harm or loss.

Thirdly, you must establish that you suffered an injury or loss as a result of the duty breach.

Finally, you must be able to show your damages and prove their value.

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What is the Concept of Duty of Care and Negligence?

The concept of duty of care and negligence are two essential principles of civil liability legislation.

Duty of care is a legal obligation to take reasonable precautions to avoid harm or injury to other people. In Queensland, the Civil Liability Act outlines the various duties of care we owe to one another in our day-to-day lives.

Additionally, negligence is defined as a breach of this duty resulting in someone being harmed or injured. To prove negligence, the claimant must show that a person or party was careless or reckless in their actions (or inaction) and that this directly caused a foreseeable risk of harm.

For example, if someone fails to properly maintain their property and this leads to an injury such as a slip and fall accident, then they may be found negligent under the law for failing in their duty of care. Similarly, if a Queensland road user drives recklessly and causes a car crash that injures someone, they can be liable to pay compensation.

In Queensland, we all owe a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent harm in most situations. So it is important to know when a duty of care exists and how you can be held accountable for negligence. To learn more about this, view the next section on Duty of Care Arises in Certain Circumstances.

Breach of Duty Caused by Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care

Queensland civil liability law requires that everyone (in most situations) take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of others. Hence, when someone fails to exercise reasonable care and an injury or harm results, they may be found liable for breaching their owed duty.

For example, if a business owner fails to clear away dangerous debris from their premises and this leads to someone slipping and falling, then they may be found negligent in a civil lawsuit. A similar situation occurs when drivers ignore road rules, drive recklessly and cause a cycling accident. In this case, they may also be liable for any personal injuries caused by their negligence.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is a legal defence that can be used to reduce liability and hence the value of an injury compensation payout. When a claimant partially contributes to their accident or injury, they are partially negligent, which means the defendant is then not 100% liable.

An example of contributory negligence is when a pedestrian crosses the road ignoring the traffic signals and is hit by a drunk driver. Even though the motorist would be prosecuted for driving under the influence, the pedestrian has some liability because they did not follow the road rules.

Please know you can still claim compensation when you have contributed to your injury. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would negotiate your level of liability in order to deliver a stronger outcome.

What is the Statutory Duty for Specific Activities or Occupations

Statutory duty refers to the legal obligation imposed on certain professions or activities that require specific standards of care. This means that if someone is performing a task covered by civil liability legislation, they follow those laws to comply with their owed statutory duty.

Medical practitioners, for instance, are frequently held to a high standard of care because their occupation is governed by numerous statutes that specify what constitutes acceptable practice. They are at risk of being responsible for any harm or damage as a result of infringing these rules. In a similar way, construction workers have a legal duty to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Furthermore, statutory duty is a vital component of our legal system because it means that people working in specific occupations are held liable for their actions. They can be made to pay damages to those they hurt when they don’t meet the standards expected of them.

Why You Should Understand the QLD Civil Liability Act

Having a good understanding of the Civil Liability Act helps when you are dealing with a civil liability claim. Knowing how it works and what it means helps you determine your legal rights and make informed decisions when pursuing or defending a claim. Without a solid understanding of the act, you risk making mistakes, costing you time, money, and even your case.

Of course, more than one piece of legislation can apply to a compensation claim, and a skilled personal injury lawyer has detailed knowledge of them all.

Working with an expert compensation lawyer is the best course of action when you want the best result. Rely on the considerable expertise of our legal team to deliver your desired outcome. Splatt Lawyers have been supporting injured Queenslanders with effective legal representation for close to three decades. It’s free to understand your rights, so contact us now at 1800 700 125.

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