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Published: 28 August 2012
Author: John Cramp

House and contents insurance may also cover public liability claims outside the home

In Public Liability claims, it often appears on investigation that the wrongdoer is penniless and the injured client has to be told that it is unlikely that any judgement against the wrongdoer will be able to be enforced.

However, even the most penniless of defendants often has house and contents insurance. And generally included in that insurance policy is cover for public liability claims.

Many people mistakenly believe that this cover only applies to situations like someone slipping or tripping on the particular premises covered by the insurance policy. But the reality is that most of these insurance policies also cover the policy holder against public liability claims against them and, often also against members of their family, when the incident takes place outside the premises.

We were recently successful in a claim against a student who had negligently injured another student while at school. The damages were paid by the house and contents insurer of the parents of the student whose negligence caused the accident.

Accordingly, when faced with a situation where the wrongdoer appears to be without financial resources, enquiries as to the existence of house and contents insurance may lead to a successful claim and financial compensation being paid to the injured person.

It should be noted that this does not relieve the injured person from the need to prove negligence on the part of the wrongdoer. The injured person must be able to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the conduct complained of was likely to cause the injury sustained. And the wrong complained of cannot be an illegal act, such as an assault.

The injured person is also required to show that they have suffered a "Significant Injury" as defined in the Wrongs Act. The injury must be assessed as a greater than 5% whole person impairment for physical injuries and a greater than 10% whole person impairment for psychological injuries.

Stringer Clark is part of the RCT legal group.

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