Legal Guides

Public Liability Claims

Public liability claims are a common personal injury claim type in Ireland. Just like most other injury claims, public liability claims must first be submitted to the Injuries Board for assessment.

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2020 PIAB Statistics

According to the Injuries Board Annual Report, there were 8,587 awards for compensation in 2020. 1,426 of these awards were public liability claims. This means that 17% of all claims that were awarded compensation in 2020 were public liability claims.

What is a Public Liability Claim?

Public liability refers to the duty of care that a government, local or city council, business or property owner has to the public to ensure that the public space they are responsible for is safe for public use.

A public liability claim refers to the type of personal injury claim made against the property owner when a person has been involved in an accident and sustained an injury on property intended for public use.

Types of Public Liability Claims*

Some of the most common public liability claims have been:

  • Footpath slips, trips or falls
  • Supermarket slips, trips or falls
  • Hotel injury claim for a slip, trip or fall
  • Slip, trip or fall in a bar or pub
  • Slip trip or fall at work or in the office
  • Injured at a restaurant/food poisoning
  • Injuries in parks, greenways, or other recreational spaces.

The most common reasons as to how people are involved in a slip, trip or fall accident in a public place are:

  • Uneven or broken pavements and footpaths leading to personal injury
  • Wet or slippery supermarket or shop floors, due to spillage or cleaning. Where no warning or ‘cleaning in progress’ sign is displayed
  • Tripping on obstacles on the floor, such as cables from electrical units, or boxes left on a floor
  • Trip and fall on stairs due to poor lighting or due to the absence of handrails for balance.
  • Injured on somebody else’s private property due to hazardous conditions.

Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance is not obligatory in Ireland. Unlike motor insurance, it is not generally mandatory by law for a business to take out a public liability insurance policy.

Public liability insurance typically covers any accidental damage, loss and injury that may occur on a premises open to the public. The purpose of public liability insurance is to defend the government, local or city council, business or property owner against claims being made by a member of the public who sustained an injury or damage while being on their premises. Public liability insurance is taken out by these parties to allow them to provide the injured party with a level of financial compensation if the injured party can prove that they acted in a negligent manner.

Public liability insurance does not generally cover the liability of an employee or trainee in the course of their work. This risk would be associated with a separate employer’s liability policy.

Public Liability Claim* Time Limits

There are certain time limits in place that tell us if you are eligible to make a claim or not and how long you have to make a claim. If you are outside the legal time limit to make a claim, then you will most likely be unable to make a claim. These time limits are referred to as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a public liability claim is 2 years less one day from the date of knowledge to bring a claim forward.

What is the Date of Knowledge?

The date of knowledge is the date on which a person became aware they were injured. The date of knowledge can usually be determined when the injured person has knowledge of the following facts:

  • That they had been injured
  • That the injury was significant
  • That the injury was caused by the negligence, nuisance or breach of duty of the party at fault for the accident
  • They know the identity of the party at fault for the accident

In many cases, the date of knowledge will be the date of the accident, however, in cases where a person’s injuries don’t present themselves until sometime after the accident, the date of knowledge may be after the accident happened.

Children and Public Liability Claims*

Where a child has been injured in a public place, they cannot bring a public liability claim forward themselves as they are considered minors. Their time limit of 2 years will begin once they turn 18 years old. However, a parent or guardian may move forward with a public liability claim on the child’s behalf before they reach 18. It is advisable to speak with a solicitor if your child was injured in an accident in a public place.