Personal injury

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    We don't give advice about this area of law

    The following content is for general purposes only. Legal Aid Queensland does not provide legal advice in this area. For more information, please contact a lawyer.

    You may have a claim for damages if you:

    • have suffered a personal injury, and
    • can show your injury resulted from someone else's actions.

    There are laws which set strict time limits and requirements for making a personal injury claim.

    There are different laws covering:

    • work injuries
    • motor vehicle accidents
    • injuries suffered by victims of crime
    • general personal injuries

    Is there a time limit and how do I notify the other party?

    Personal injury claims have a time limit to notify the other party of the claim.

    For general personal injuries, the time limit to notify the person you are claiming against is:

    • nine months from the date of the injury, or
    • one month from instructing a lawyer (depending on whichever is the earlier)

    There are special forms for notifying the person you are making the claim against. Copies of the forms are available on the Department of Justice and Attorney-General's website.

    For children the obligation to notify the other party of the claim begins when the child turns 18. A parent or guardian of the child may notify the other party of the claim before the child turns 18.

    For any claim on behalf of a child, for medical negligence cases, a parent or legal guardian of the child must give a Part 1 Notice of Claim within six years of the day when the guardian or parent knew or ought to have known the injury had occurred.

    Is there a time limit to start court action?

    Personal injury claims also have a three year time limit to start court action.

    Where can I get advice?

    Legal Aid Queensland does not provide advice about personal injury matters.

    This is because Legal Aid Queensland does not practice in the area of personal injury law. If you need legal advice about personal injury law you should seek legal advice from a private solicitor.

    Can Legal Aid Queensland help?

    The Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme may provide assistance to eligible applicants for the payment of outlays in some personal injury claims. The Scheme has a list of firms who can assess your claim and represent you on a speculative basis - that is they do not require you to pay their costs unless you are successful.

    See The Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme brochure(PDF, 166KB) for more information.

    What about a private lawyer?

    The Queensland Law Society can also provide you with the names of solicitors who:

    • are accredited specialists in personal injury matters
    • will take cases on a speculative basis

    You can contact the Queensland Law Society or you can search their website referral service.

    Hiring a lawyer for a personal injury claim

    What do I ask the lawyer?

    Before deciding to hire a solicitor for a personal injury action you need to be clear about some basic information.

    Ask the solicitor:

    • What are my prospects of success i.e. Do I have a strong case?
    • How much am I likely to get if I win?
    • How much is it likely to cost me?
    • How long is it likely to take?

    The solicitor may not be able to provide you with precise answers but they should be able to give you a range of likely outcomes. You can then weigh up this information and decide whether it is worth going ahead with the claim.

    What happens if I decide to go ahead?

    If you decide to go ahead you need to be very clear about what you are signing up for.

    A solicitor taking on your personal injury case will ask you to sign a client agreement. This is a contract which sets out the basis on which you will pay the solicitor. You should not sign this agreement unless you understand what it means.

    What do I need to know before I sign the client agreement?

    Before committing yourself by signing the client agreement you need to be clear about:

    • how the solicitor's fees will be calculated e.g. an hourly rate
    • the expected extra costs for your case e.g. court filing fees, medical reports
    • whether you are expected to pay for anything during your case or only at the end
    • what costs you will be responsible for if your case is not successful

    There are limits on:

    • the fees solicitors can charge in personal injury matters, and
    • the amount of costs that can be recovered from the other side in a small claim, even if you win.

    You should discuss these issues with the solicitor before signing the client agreement.

    You need to be satisfied that you will receive enough money in the end to make it all worthwhile.

    Do I need legal advice?

    You may need legal advice if you have suffered a personal injury which resulted from someone else's actions, and you are considering making a claim for damages.

    Get legal advice

    Legal Aid Queensland cannot provide legal advice on personal injury matters.

    If you have suffered a personal injury because of someone else's actions, you should speak to a private solicitor who practises in this area of law as soon as possible, as strict time limits apply.

    Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation. Some private solicitors may provide the first consultation free for personal injury matters.

    Who else can help?

    These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

    Department of Justice and Attorney-General can provide the appropriate forms you need if you are making a claim for personal injury.

    Department of Children Safety, Seniors and Disability administered the Redress Scheme for former residents of Queensland children's institutions, including placement under either a Children's Service Act or relevant Aboriginal Protection Act. Applications to the Redress Scheme were closed on 30 September 2008.

    Motor Accident Insurance Commission deals with compulsory third party (CTP) and personal injury claims.

    Nominal Defendant can help with compensation for people injured as a result of the negligent driving of unidentified and/or uninsured motor vehicles.

    The National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland (NIISQ) is a no-fault scheme that provides necessary and reasonable lifetime treatment, care and support to those who sustain eligible serious personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident or work related accident in Queensland, on or after 1 July 2016.

    WorkSafe can help with general enquiries about injuries (physical and mental) arising due to work.

    Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

    Last updated 25 May 2023