Negligence Claims Process

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Purpose of this topic

To explain how negligence claims (personal injury and property damage) are processed through the Department.

Background

The Department does not carry accident insurance for accidental injuries or accidental property damage.  However, in some circumstances medical or other expenses will be paid by the Department where it is assessed that it is likely, in all the circumstances, that the Department is liable for negligent acts or omissions of its staff/volunteers.

Process

This table describes how negligence claims (personal injury and property damage) are processed.

Step Description
1​

Principals should advise people who wish to make a claim (e.g. parents, neighbours, members of the public) for medical or other expenses of the following information:

  • The claim should be set out in writing, and detail the circumstances of the incident, and the reasons why the claimant believes that the Department is liable for the expenses.
  • The claim should attach evidence of the expenses, which can include estimates of likely future expenses not yet incurred.

The written claim should then be forwarded to legal.services@edumail.vic.gov.au with a subject line of “New Claim” or mailed to: 

    Legal Division - Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
    Ground Level, East Wing, 2 Treasury Place
    East Melbourne VIC 3002 
    If a Principal receives any writs, demands or claims for compensation arising from personal injury or property damage, they should immediately refer the matter to Legal Division at the above address, along with copies of all relevant documents (for example correspondence from claimants or lawyers, writs or complaints).
    Under no circumstances should school staff make any admission, offer, promise or payment in relation to a claim. It is also not appropriate for school staff to comment or give their opinion on whether the claim is or is not likely to be successful.
2​

​No further action is required by the Principal until they are contacted by Legal Division, a representative of the claims agency or the Department’s external lawyers.

Principals should cooperate fully with the claims agency’s investigations and any external lawyers engaged by the Department to ensure that claims are finalised promptly.

If principals have any questions in relation to the process, they should contact the Legal Division.

​3

​The Legal Division will provide appropriate advice and assistance to schools involved in personal injury and property damage claims, and coordinate as necessary with Region and other areas of the Department – in particular where the claim is litigated and/or complex and poses ongoing challenges for the school.

When dealing with a claim or complaint the Department will, in certain situations, provide information to a law enforcement agency (such as Victoria Police). In all circumstances, the Department will comply with its legal obligations regarding confidentiality, use and disclosure of personal information.

As a party to legal proceedings, the Department is guided by Victoria’s Model Litigant Guidelines and Common Guiding Principles. A copy of the Model Litigant Guidelines and Common Guiding Principles can be found on the Department of Justice website, see:

Note: Negligence claims were previously referred to as ‘liability claims’ and were processed through the Liability Services Unit. All such claims are now referred to as ‘negligence claims’ and are co-ordinated by the Senior Lawyer – Negligence Litigation Co-ordinator within the Legal Division.
 

Contact Details

The Legal Division may be contacted by schools via phone: (03) 9637 3146 or email: legal.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

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