Last updated 16 August 2016     This chapter is currently under review.

Negligence in a legal context means a specific legal wrong—a failure in law to do what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances to avoid loss or injury to another person.

Negligence action is the most common cause of action pursued by people who suffer personal injury.

The elements of a negligence action

Before a plaintiff can recover compensation from a defendant in a negligence action, the plaintiff must establish that:

  • the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • the defendant breached that duty
  • the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s personal injury.

The Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) (Civil Liability Act) applies to claims for personal injuries and states the requirements for an action in negligence and the available defences. However, the following personal injuries are not included:

  • work related injuries
  • dust-related injuries (asbestos, coal, silica)
  • tobacco-related or smoking-related injuries (s 5 Civil Liability Act).

Other than for employers, who are insured with the Commonwealth workers’ compensation system, the Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) applies to all work-related injuries that occurred after 1 July 2003. It includes similar provisions to the Civil Liability Act regarding the requirements for an action in negligence and possible defences.