Knowledge base

Fall at Work or Public Place Compensation

Falls are a significant cause of death and severe injury in the workplace and thousands of people are injured as a result of slips, trips and falls each year.

Broken bones after falling in a public place or at work

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Can I claim compensation for a slip, trip or fall?

You may be able to claim compensation for injuries that result from a fall if it was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.

I had a fall at work - can I claim compensation?

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

Warning cone and safety work systems

  • providing safe systems of work
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.

If you are injured because your employer does not provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes late onset injuries and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Examples: Jeff is injured at work when he falls from a roof because the harness his employer supplied to him fails as it is faulty. Jeff’s employer knew the harness sometimes comes undone by itself but supplied it anyway. Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries. 
Rick is injured at work when he falls from a height while working on a roof. He was issued with a safety harness but was not wearing it. Rick is unlikely to get compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

See also: WorkCover claims

Professions at risk of slips, trips and falls from height

Painters at risk of slipping and falling

Fall hazards exist in professions where work is carried out at a height, such as stacking shelves, working on roofs, unloading large trucks or accessing silos. At risk professions also include: painting trades, building and plumbing labourers, truck drivers, deck hands, electricians, handymen and store persons.

Trip and fall in a public place - can I claim compensation?

Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury.  This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.

Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface, tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.

Jeff is injured when he slips over at a shopping centre where cleaners had left a large pool of detergent on the tiled floor. There were no warning signs about the spill. Jeff may be able to claim compensation for his injuries.
Slip and fall at the supermarket
Rachel is injured when she slips while running down an outdoor staircase in the rain in high heels to get to the movie theatre on time. Rachel may not be able to claim compensation since her injury resulted largely from her own failure to take care for her safety.

See also: Public Place Injury Claims

Slip or fall - what can I claim for?

General Damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.

For example a severe spinal injury like quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas a minor soft tissue injury is rated 0 to 4 with a monetary range of $0 to $5,560.

Medical Costs

Pain killers to aid in fall injury recovery

To diagnose and treat a injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear medical supports or apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Some injuries require surgery to stabilise or repair injured bones or soft tissue. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitating after an injury may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you sustain serious injuries you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your injury prevents you from working to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity.

Loss of superannuation

Claiming for loss of future income and superannuation

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care & assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.

How will my fall injury settlement be calculated?

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.

The amount of compensation payable for your injuries will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater a impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries, for example, a professional ruby player will suffer a greater loss as a result of a back injury than a person who works part-time in an office and will therefore receive greater compensation.

How long do I have to start a fall at work or public place injury claim?

Time limits to start a fall at work or public place injury claim

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

Common injuries sustained in slip, trip and falls

A variety of injuries might be sustained in a fall. Those most commonly suffered include:

Cast for recovering from fall
  • Musculoskeletal injuries - ligaments are stretched too far or torn - particularly vulnerable are the knee, hip and ankle joints
  • Fractures - cracked or broken bones resulting suddenly from trauma or impacts
  • Dislocations - bone slips out of a joint
  • Bruising - ruptured blood vessels resulting in skin discolouration, swelling and tenderness
  • Spinal cord injuries - the delicate spinal chord running through the centre of the vertebrae is damaged possibly causing paraplegia
  • Vertebral injuries - ranging from spinal chord injuries and fractured vertebrae to herniated discs, sprains, strains, bruising and whiplash
  • Lacerations - cuts, wounds and abrasions of varying degrees

Common causes of falls 

  • Slips: Occur where a foot loses traction with the floor due to inappropriate footwear or a slippery ground surface due to a spillage or coating on the floor or a highly polished finish.
  • Trips: Commonly occur where a foot is caught on a low lying object, an uneven surface, a loose mat, open drawer or a cable on the ground.
  • Falls from height: Workers commonly fall from ladders, elevated platforms, buildings or structures in the course of employment. The same may occur in a domestic setting while someone is on a roof or up a ladder cleaning gutters or pruning trees.
  • Falls into holes: Occur when a person falls from ground level into a hole, trench or service pit.
  • Falls down stairs: Caused by a slip or trip on the staircase

Potential long term impacts of slip and fall injuries

Injuries sustained in a fall may have a permanent impact on your activities of daily life and your ability to perform your usual occupation.

Next steps: fall at work - what to do now?

Expert personal injury lawyer

Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances that caused them, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Smith's Lawyers are Queensland injury compensation experts and run all claims on a truly risk-free basis, 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch.®'. Unlike the vast majority our competitors, this means no upfront costs or risks.

Call us anytime on 1800 266 801, via live-chat or request a callback via the form below. Our Principal lawyer Greg Smith will explain your rights and can arrange a no-obligation home visit if it sounds like we can help.

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

Next steps — get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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