Can I Sue for Bullying? – Fight Back & Win Compensation

In Australia, you can sue for bullying and claim compensation, in some cases. Know if, when, and how much you can sue with our legal guide.
Angry office bully having an argument with a colleague

About Bullying Claims

If you have suffered bullying, you will be well aware of its terrible impact on your physical and mental health and how it destroys your emotional stability and life. Some Australians experience this destructive behaviour daily, in the workplace, at school, at university, using social media, and in other forms of cyberbullying.

Can you sue someone for bullying?

Are you ready to fight back, claim your deserved compensation, and answer the question, – Can I sue for bullying? Thankfully, the simple answer is yes, in most cases. To help you understand your right to seek damages and make a successful claim, our legal guide explores the topic of suing for bullying, including:

  • Defining bullying and its impact
  • Common types of bullying behaviour
  • The kinds of bullying compensation claims
  • The recoverable damages from a bullying lawsuit
  • Your legal options when claiming bullying compensation.

Defining Bullying and Its Impact

In Australia, legislation defines bullying as any intentional and repeated actions or words a person uses to cause emotional, physical, or psychological injury to someone else. This type of destructive behaviour often involves verbal abuse, physical assault, social exclusion and humiliation, online gossiping, and spreading rumours. Sadly, bullying happens in many situations – but it occurs more often at school, in the workplace, and online, severely upending the targeted person’s life.

If you experience emotional bullying, you will likely feel anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even self-harming thoughts. Additionally, bullying victims often face other challenges like maintaining social relationships, their academic performance, and overall reduced quality of life. Unfortunately, the effects of this unreasonable behaviour can last for years after the bullying situation, causing long-term damage.

Do I have a valid claim?

What is my claim worth?

A bullied person questioning: can you sue someone for bullying?

What are the Common Types of Bullying Behaviours?

Being bullied means you have likely experienced these common bullying behaviours.

Physical Bullying

Direct physical contact that harms, injures, or intimidates the targeted person, leaving visible marks, including damage to personal property.

Verbal Bullying

Involves using degrading, humiliating, or intimidating words to emotionally harm someone, whether in person, in writing, or online. Verbal bullying can destroy self-esteem and cause significant emotional distress.

Social Bullying

Socially destructive behaviour that excludes someone from a group, including spreading malicious rumours about them.

Psychological Bullying

This behaviour can be challenging to detect since it happens via email, online chat, or behind closed doors. Psychological abuse uses exclusion, intimidation, and unfounded rumours to control, isolate, and cause damage to the target’s mental health.

Sexual Bullying

Any sexually motivated destructive behaviour that targets someone’s sexuality or gender identity, including unwanted advances, harassment, or spreading explicit content. This kind of conduct often leads to long-term mental trauma.


When someone uses online platforms, including electronic communication, to harass, intimidate, or humiliate someone else. Online bullying often involves rumours, sharing embarrassing photos or videos, or sending threatening messages. Sadly, due to the internet’s reach and the ease of hiding identities, cyberbullying can be relentless and difficult to escape.

Can I Sue for Workplace Bullying?

You can generally sue for work-related bullying when you are diagnosed with a recognised mental illness or psychological injury that prevents you from working. This legal action gives injured people the right to claim damages for their employer’s duty of care failure.

If workplace bullying and harassment occur at your job, you should first talk to your manager, human resources department, a health and safety representative, or a union representative. To know your rights to claim a workplace bullying compensation payout, you should contact experienced compensation lawyers.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

You can make a worker’s compensation claim for any physical or psychological harm at work (like workplace harassment) that causes you to experience a loss. Depending on your circumstances, you could:

Successful workers’ compensation claims rely on expert legal advice, particularly for workplace bullying claims. Additionally, psychological injury settlements are often more challenging than ones for physical harm, as the damage is invisible. Your best strategy for winning a workers’ compensation claim is to seek legal advice from a skilled personal injury lawyer.

More about workplace bullying claims >

Free Online Claim Check

Can I Sue for School Bullying?

In most cases, you can sue for bullying at school. Unfortunately, it’s common for Australian children to be bullied in public and private schools, causing long-lasting harm that affects them now and for decades.

When considering if your child was bullied, there are three primary considerations:

  1. There was an imbalance of power between the bullied person and aggressor, like a difference in size or age, or the bully was a member of a group that engaged in harassment of the victim.
  2. Bullying is not a one-off event for legal purposes, so you must show that the undesired behaviour was deliberate and repeated for some time.
  3. The behaviour caused an injury. Fortunately, the fact that institutional bullying can mentally harm children is well known.

What You Must Prove for a Successful School Bullying Claim

To have a successful school bullying claim, you must prove that:

  • Your child experienced bullying at school.
  • The school was negligent by failing to end the bullying conduct. This duty failure means they should have taken reasonable steps to eradicate bullying, like acting on complaints and implementing appropriate preventative policies.
  • There would not have been bullying if the school had taken action.
  • Your child was harmed and suffered a loss because of their injuries
  • The school’s negligence triggered your child’s injury and loss.

In most cases, you file a lawsuit against the public liability insurer of the negligent school, which will try to deny your claim. Hence, to win a bullying claim of this nature, you must work with an experienced public liability lawyer.

Can I Sue for Cyberbullying?

Generally, you can sue for cyberbullying in Australia. Your right to claim damages is covered by the Personal Injury Proceedings Act and protected by Civil Liability legislation. To succeed, a compensation lawyer would help identify the liable party, depending on the source of the online abuse, e.g., a workplace, school, university, or other institution.

Cyberbullying differs from other types of bullying because it happens online, via mobile phones, text, chat, or social media platforms, making it hard for the targeted person to escape the constant harassment.

Sadly, cyberbullying is a severe behavioural problem affecting young people across Australia. In fact, the eSafety Commissioner reports that 44% of young Australians have had a distressing online in the last six months, with 15% receiving physical or emotional abuse or threats.

Additionally, you can commence a defamation lawsuit when you can prove you have suffered serious harm due to defamatory content online.

Do I Have a Valid Claim?

How Much Compensation for a Bullying Claim?

The value of a bullying compensation claim depends less on how bad the instigator’s actions were and more on how much they negatively impacted the bullied person’s life. Generally, the factors that determine the value of a lump sum compensation payout include the following:

  • The type of conduct, the degree of physical and psychological damage, whether permanent or long-term and the chance of recovery.
  • How much has it impacted their ability to earn an income now and in the future?
  • The type of medical treatment they will need now and in the future.
  • How much it affects their quality of life, including their usual interests and hobbies.
  • Your current age and number of remaining working years.

When calculating common law damages, lawyers and insurance companies use ‘heads of damage’ to decide the awarded settlement; these include:

  • Past and future lost income and superannuation
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering, also known as general damages or lost enjoyment of life
  • Cost of home care
  • Cost of medical aids and equipment

What is a Workplace Bullying Compensation Payout Worth?

The value of workplace bullying compensation payouts in Australia depends on the claim type, the severity of the injury, and the related impact on your life, particularly your work capacity.

If you are a victim of workplace bullying that triggers a recognised psychiatric injury, you could receive

  1. Weekly WorkCover benefits, which typically start at 85% of your net weekly earnings
  2. A psychological permanent impairment payout, using the WPI scale.
  3. A common law settlement (suing for damages)

Safe Work Australia data shows that compensation for workplace bullying generally has a higher payout than other work mental distress claims, with an average of $ 34,600.

At Splatt Lawyers, we will provide a free payout estimate on request. Contact us now for your complimentary claim assessment at 1800 700 125.

More about bullying compensation payouts >

What is my claim worth?

Strict Time Limits When Suing for Bullying

There are strict limits when suing for bullying, and missing your deadline typically results in your being excluded from receiving a lump sum compensation payout. Additionally, taking action immediately frequently yields stronger results, especially if you already have a medical condition that worsens due to unfavourable behaviour. There are differing time frames depending on the type of legal action, for example:

  • Common law claims: You can commence legal action for bullying compensation up to three years from the date of the injury.
  • WorkCover claims: You must lodge within six months.
  • Fair Work has multiple deadlines depending on the case type, ranging from 21 days to one year.

Please note – the above information is general and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a knowledgeable lawyer or solicitor to understand your case’s time limits. At Splatt Lawyers, knowing if you have an eligible claim and the applicable time limits is free.

It’s free to know if you can claim >

Legal Protections Against Bullying

In Australia, the Fair Work Act 2009 protects your right to fair conduct at work and a safe workplace. Hence, employers must take reasonable steps to stop bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace. When your employer fails to fulfill their legal duty, you can take legal action for your suffering and seek compensation.

Furthermore, each Australian state has work and safety legislation that defines standards for safe and healthy workplaces. For example, the applicable Queensland legislation is the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Anti-Bullying Laws

All Australian states have anti-bullying legislation seeking to protect residents at school, at work, and elsewhere. These laws establish bullying definitions, mechanisms for reporting a breach, and establish responsibilities for all parties to prevent this damaging behaviour,

Anti-bullying laws often guide investigations, disciplinary action, and support services for impacted people.

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Steps to Successfully Sue for Bullying

If you have carefully considered your circumstances and decided to pursue legal action against your bullies, here are the steps to success:

1. Consult with an expert lawyer: Seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor who specialises in compensation for bullying. Our legal team will guide you step-by-step through the claims process, finding the best strategy for a successful bullying payout.

2. Document Your Evidence: Robust medical evidence is vital for a winning result, so keep medical records, photographs, emails, text messages, and witness statements.

3. File an Injury Claim: Your lawyer will prepare to file an accurate damages claim stating the allegations against the bully or liable party. This document will start legal proceedings and your path to justice.

4. Negotiation or Mediation: Negotiations for a mediated resolution begin when there is accepted liability. Your lawyer works hard to get your desired result.

5. Court Litigation: If negotiations fail, the case may proceed to court litigation. Rest easy knowing Splatt Lawyers has a strong record of success, settling 99% of claims without court proceedings, saving you time and money.

6. Settlement Payout: Upon successfully completing your legal matter, you will receive a settlement payout as full and final compensation.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps You Claim Compensation

If you or someone you know has experienced bullying, you must understand how personal injury lawyers help you sue for bullying. No one should have to suffer physical, emotional, and psychological abuse from a bully in Australia.

If this is your situation, a personal injury lawyer will provide the effective legal representation you need to claim against the responsible parties successfully. They explain the relevant bullying laws, your right to compensation, and the most effective path to justice.

Choosing Splatt Lawyers for your bullying claim means accessing over 28 years of legal expertise and our 100% no-win, no-fee legal funding. Moreover, our no-risk guarantee means you pay when you win and nothing if you lose. Please find out how it works by contacting us for your free claim review on 1800 700 125.

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