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The Civil Liability Act 2002 (Tas) is the statute that applies in Tasmania for personal injury cases. There have been several amendments since then, which are incorporated into the Act. The common law is still important in Tasmania in determining issues such as the duty of care.

The Law

It is a common misconception that where a person has suffered personal injury or damage in an accident, they can sue the person responsible and that person can be made to pay them compensation. Only a small percentage of claims for personal injury are actually entitled to damages. Except in cases which are covered by specific legislation (such as workers compensation and motor vehicle accident) an injured person has to first establish that there has been negligence on the part of another person before they are entitled to damages. The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (Tas) 1988 and the Motor Accidents (Liabilities and Compensation) Act (Tas) 1973 provide for compensation (in some cases) where there is no negligence.

Until recently, the law determining liability for negligence was common law. However, the Civil Liability Act (Tas) 2002 has altered this situation, and now negligence in Tasmania is governed by both the common law and the Civil Liability Act. This Act sets out the legal standards, or tests, for determining whether or not negligence has occurred. Other Australian states, including Victoria, West and South Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales, enacted similar legislation. The legislation is mostly uniform, with some variation.

The legislative reforms have been the subject of a great deal of criticism. They were intended to bring down the cost of insurance premiums for negligence, but any changes in the insurance industry have been minimal at best. Moreover, there has been criticism that the limitations put in place to minimise civil litigation have precluded many people from the right to seek compensation for serious injuries incurred because of the actions of others.

Legal Advice

With any claim for civil damages it is important to seek legal advice. Law firms that specialise in civil claims are easily found on the Law Society Website

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