A Guide Explaining Public Liability Claims

Public liability claims are a type of personal injury claim made against the party in control of a public place that breached their duty of care leading to a member of the public sustaining an injury in an accident on their premises. To start our guide, we explain the duty of care owed by those in control of public spaces and the eligibility criteria that need to be satisfied in order to seek compensation for your injuries.

To aid your understanding of how such an accident could occur, this guide includes some example scenarios of breaches in this duty that could result in you sustaining injuries. We have also included an explanation of how personal injury compensation is calculated to address the different impacts of your injuries.

Towards the end of our guide, you will find a short explanation of the No Win No Fee agreement our solicitors offer their services under and the advantages you could experience if you choose to start your claim with them under such a contract.

Our advisors can provide further information if you have any questions about public liability claims. They can also assess your eligibility to start a claim in your particular circumstances at zero cost. Get in touch today via the following: 

  • Call our advisors on 0800 073 8801.
  • Alternatively, you can contact us through our website.
  • This page also contains a live chat function which you can access at the bottom of your screen.

A diagram showing various slips, trips and falls including falls down stairs and from heights.


Select A Section

  1. When Could You Make Public Liability Claims?
  2. Types Of Public Liability Claims
  3. Who Could You Make A Public Liability Claim Against?
  4. What Public Liability Compensation Could You Claim?
  5. Can You Make A No Win No Fee Public Liability Compensation Claim?
  6. Learn More About Personal Injury Claims

When Could You Make Public Liability Claims?

The party who is in control of a public place, referred to from here onwards as the “occupier” is bound by the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 to take steps to ensure the reasonable safety of visitors to their premises using the space for its intended purpose. Failing to uphold this duty of care can result in accidents where visitors are injured.

The eligibility criteria to begin a personal injury claim following an accident in a public place are as follows:

  1. You were owed a duty of care by the occupier of a public place as a visitor to that premises.
  2. The occupier failed to uphold this duty of care by not taking steps to ensure the reasonable safety of visitors.
  3. This failure was the cause of an accident in which you sustained injuries.

If the three points above occurred, this is called negligence in tort law. You could be eligible to make a claim for an injury suffered in a public area if you can prove negligence occurred.

Is There A Time Limit On Public Liability Claims?

In most cases, personal injury claims operate on a limitation of 3 years counted from the date the accident took place. This is established by the Limitation Act 1980. Exceptions to the general limit can apply and in these cases an extension can be granted. For example:

  • Injured persons who were minor when the accident took place have the 3-year limit counted from their 18th birthday. Before this point, it is paused.
  • Those lacking sufficient mental capacity to pursue the claim themselves have the time limit paused indefinitely. If they recover their mental capacity, they will have three years starting from the recovery date to pursue legal action.

A suitable adult can start a personal injury claim on behalf of someone else while the time limit is paused by applying to act as their litigation friend.

You can find out more about the time limit, and if any exceptions are relevant to your potential claim by contacting our advisors on the number above. 

Types Of Public Liability Claims

In this section, we examine some possible scenarios where public liability claims could be made after an occupier has breached their duty of care and caused an injury. 

Examples of where an occupier could fail to uphold their duty of care can include:

  • A leisure centre was informed of a blocked drain in their changing room showers. The blockage had caused a water hazard, but no steps had been taken to clean the water up, repair the drain, or notify customers of the hazard. As a result, you slipped on the water and sustained a head injury in the fall.
  • The sign above a restaurant was coming loose from its mountings. The restaurant manager had not carried out regular inspections of the premises. The sign fell and landed on your shoulder, breaking your shoulder blade. 
  • You went to use the customer bathroom in a cafe. A fault with the light switch had not been addressed despite reports being made by several customers. As a result, you subsequently suffered an electric shock from the faulty wiring.

To find out if you could start a personal injury claim in your particular circumstances, speak to one of our advisors for a free assessment of your eligibility today.

A man lying on the ground is clutching his knee after a fall. A yellow wet floor sign is in the foreground.

Who Could You Make A Public Liability Claim Against?

As “public places” can encompass a broad range of premises, such as shops, leisure facilities, parks, shopping centres, and roads, there are many parties that public liability claims could be made against.

As such, your potential claim will be made against the occupier of the public place where the accident and injury occurred, if it resulted from the occupier breaching their duty of care. Whether that is a local authority such as a council, or a private business, such as a gym or restaurant.

Do Occupiers Have To Have Public Liability Insurance?

There is no legal requirement to carry public liability insurance. However, despite it not being compulsory, most companies choose to have an insurance policy as it can pay out any compensation and legal costs resulting from an accident on the premises. Without the insurance, the business will have to use its own funds for these costs, which could be very expensive.

You can learn more about who you could make a No Win No Fee public liability claim against by speaking to our friendly team of advisors via the details provided below.

A public liability insurance form on a desk with a fountain pen, a calculator, a stack of banknotes and a pair of glasses.

What Public Liability Compensation Could You Claim?

There are two heads of loss that are relevant to public liability claims. The pain and suffering caused by your injuries, physical and/or psychological, will be compensated under general damages. Financial losses associated with your injuries could be reimbursed under special damages.

To assist in the calculation of a potential value for general damages, reference can be made to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) alongside a report from an independent medical assessment you may need to attend as part of the claims process. The medical report can provide a more in-depth insight into the way you have suffered due to your injuries. Also, the JCG document contains guideline compensation figures for various injuries. We have selected some relevant entries for use in our table here.

Compensation Table

As personal injury claims are decided on the merits of each individual case, these figures have been provided to serve as guidance only. Please also be advised that the top entry was not taken from the JCG.

Type of Injury Severity Guideline Compensation Brackets Notes
Multiple serious injuries and special damages. Serious Up to £500,000 Compensation can be awarded to the injured person for multiple serious injuries in addition to lost earnings, care costs, medical bills and other special damages.
Brain Damage Moderately Severe £219,070 to £282,010 Very serious disability resulting in a substantial dependence on others. This bracket includes both cognitive and physical disablement.
Epilepsy Established Grand Mal £102,000 to £150,110 This bracket is dependent on whether attacks are controlled by medication, any behavioural problems, and the impact on daily working and/or social life.
Scarring to Other Parts of the Body Significant Burns Likely to exceed £104,830 Significant burn injuries covering more than 40% of the body.
Leg Injuries Severe (iii) £39,200 to £54,830 Cases involving serious comminuted or compound fractures or ligament injuries.
Severe (iv) £27,760 to £39,200 Generally involving cases of a severe crush injury, or multiple or complex fractures to a single limb.
Neck Injuries Moderate (ii) £13,740 to £24,990 Soft tissue or wrenching-type injury and a severe disc lesion causing cervical spondylosis with other issues.
Shoulder Injuries Serious £12,770 to £19,200 Dislocation of the shoulder and lower brachial plexus damage.

Special Damages

As we stated earlier in the section, certain costs you incur can be reimbursed as part of your personal injury compensation under special damages. Examples of costs you could claim back are provided here:

  • Medical costs such as any physiotherapy you may require, prescription medications, and other medical expenses that are paid out-of-pocket.
  • In-home care such as assistance with washing yourself, preparing meals, and cleaning if you can no longer do these domestic tasks by yourself safely.
  • The cost of public transport to and from your place of work, medical appointments, or appointments with a solicitor, if you cannot drive yourself. 
  • Compensation for the loss of earnings incurred due to time taken off work to recover. 

You will need to provide proof of these losses in order to receive compensation under special damages, so make sure you have kept your payslips, invoices, and other bills as supporting evidence. 

Our advisors have extensive experience in assessing personal injury claims. For a more specific estimate of the potential value of your public liability injury claim, contact them today via the information given below.

Can You Make A No Win No Fee Public Liability Compensation Claim?

To find out more about the public liability claims process, contact our advisory team today. As well as providing further guidance for free, they can also assess your eligibility to start a claim. If you are deemed eligible, one of our experienced personal injury solicitors could offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement or “CFA.”

The CFA is a type of No Win No Fee contract that offers claimants some key benefits when they start their claim, including:

  • No fees for the solicitor to commence working on your case.
  • No fees for this work during the claims process.
  • No fees for their services in the event your claim is unsuccessful.

If the solicitor wins your claim, you will receive public liability compensation. A percentage of this compensation will be subtracted by the solicitor as their success fee. However, the percentage has a legal cap ensuring you keep the majority of your settlement.

Our advisors can explain the claims process in greater detail. They can also assess your eligibility to start a claim in your particular circumstances at zero cost. Get in touch today via the following:

  • Call our advisors on 0800 073 8801.
  • Alternatively, you can contact us through our website.
  • This page also contains a live chat function which you can access at the bottom of your screen.

The words 'No Win No Fee' in red block capitals on a white background

Learn More About Personal Injury Claims

You can find out more about personal injury claims here:

We have also provided these external resources that may be useful to you:

  • The Health and Safety Executive has published this retail guidance for ensuring safety in the retail business sector.
  • Find out when you should dial 999 after an incident with this resource from the NHS.
  • You can read about the pre-action protocols in personal injury claims on the Department of Justice Website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide on public liability claims. To learn about the process of making a compensation claim or to get a no cost, zero obligation assessment of your eligibility to start a claim, speak to an advisor today. Our team are available 24/7 via the contact information given above.