Negligence

Often people are injured as a result of someone else not taking appropriate care. If you have been injured because of the actions (or inaction) of another person, this does not mean that you should start a court case for damages.

Only a small number of personal injury claims end up with the court making an award for damages. You need to show that the other person was negligent, and that their negligence caused your injuries. There are time limits for making a claim, as well as other legal considerations and restrictions.

Legal Aid WA does not give legal advice or representation in court for negligence claims. Many private lawyers offer legal advice and representation for these claims. The Law Society of WA has a directory of members you can use to find a lawyer who specialises in this area.

This page has information on what you can do if you are injured as a result of negligence.

What is negligence?

The law says that in some situations, you might owe a 'duty of care' to another person. For example, everyone has a duty to take reasonable care not to cause foreseeable harm to other people or their property. 

Negligence is where a person owes a duty of care to someone else, they breach that duty, and the other person suffers injury, loss or damage as a result. 

Sometimes it will be obvious what caused the injury, for example, a person slips on a wet floor in a shop and breaks their arm. But it can be more complex if there are other possible causes for an injury, what if that person had tripped over at home and landed on their arm before going to the shops? There are likely to be questions about which fall caused their injury.

Sometimes it can be complicated to work out if a person is owed a duty of care and what caused an injury. It is always recommended to get legal advice about your situation.

How do you make a claim?

If you have suffered an injury because of negligence, you may be able to make a civil claim through the courts for damages. In some areas, such as workers' compensation or personal injuries claims from motor vehicle accidents, there are laws that limit what legal action you can take to get compensation.

The law relating to negligence is complicated and there are strict time limits that apply to negligence claims.

You should also consider whether or not it is worth making a claim. Litigation can be very stressful, time-consuming and expensive. Whether you should start a case, and your options for negotiation and settlement, will depend on the seriousness of your injuries, how they were caused, and the likely costs of making a claim.

You should get legal advice about your situation and options as soon as possible.

What should you take to a legal appointment?

This is the sort of information you should take to a legal appointment:

  • Personal details of any other parties involved.
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses.
  • The date, time and place of the incident.
  • Full details of how the incident occurred (notes may be helpful).
  • Full description of injuries, loss, damage or expenses.
  • Details of any hospitalisation or treatment.
  • Full names and addresses of any treating doctors or other therapists.
  • Any medical accounts or other accounts related to this injury that you have received.
  • Any correspondence (letters, emails, texts) sent or received about the matter. 
  • Details of work history and current employment details.
  • Your thoughts on how the injury is currently affecting you.
  • Any valuations or quotes for repairs (if property damage).
  • Any photos taken (photos should be dated and signed by the person who took them).

 

Reviewed: 30 January 2024  

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.