Criminal Injuries Compensation (WA)
In Western Australia, a person who has been the victim of a violent crime may claim compensation for their injuries in some circumstances. These claims are made under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003. Compensation can be awarded for physical injuries or mental and nervous shock and in some situations, for losses resulting from the death of a close relative. This article deals with criminal injuries compensation in Western Australia.
Who can claim criminal injuries compensation in Western Australia?
A person can claim criminal injuries compensation if they suffered injury because of a criminal offence.
If a person dies as a result of an offence and their close relative suffers loss as a result, the close relative can claim compensation for that loss.
Who cannot claim criminal injuries compensation in Western Australia?
A person will not be awarded compensation in the following situations:
- Where the assessor is not satisfied that the injury or loss arose from the alleged offence;
- Where the offender is likely to benefit from the award (such as where the victim and the offender are in a relationship);
- Where the claimant did not assist police to apprehend and prosecute the offender;
- Where the claimant was engaged in a criminal offence at the time they became the victim of the alleged offence;
- Where a criminal injuries compensation award has already been made, or has already been refused;
- Where the injury or loss arose the use of a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle was being used to commit a crime.
The assessor also has a discretion to refuse to make an award because of any behaviour, condition, attitude, or disposition by the claimant that contributed to the victim’s injury or death.
What cannot be claimed?
The criminal injuries compensation scheme does not cover lost, stolen or damaged property. A person who has had property stolen or damaged during a criminal offence will have to seek compensation through another avenue.
Compensation for property stolen or damaged can be ordered by the court when it sentences the offender.
If the offender has the financial capacity to pay and there has been a large amount of property stolen or damaged, it may also be appropriate to take civil action against the offender.
Applying for criminal injuries compensation in Western Australia
An application can be lodged with the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation online or by post or email. The application should be accompanied by a statement of what happened, a victim impact statement and medical records and reports. If financial losses are being claimed, the claimant should provide invoices, receipts and rebate information form Medicare.
The offender will be notified of the claim.
A hearing may be held if the assessor thinks fit. Alternately, the assessor may make or refuse to make an award without conducting a hearing.
How much will be awarded?
If a person is successful in their criminal injuries compensation claim, there is a prescribed maximum amount they can be awarded depending on whether the claim relates to a single offence or multiples offences and depending on when the offences occurred.
These maximum awards are set out in sections 31 – 34 of the Act.
Applications for criminal injuries compensation must be made within three years of the date of the offence. If a claim is made in related to more than one offence, it must be made within three years of the date of the last offence. However, an assessor can accept an application after the three-year time limit has passed, if they think it is just to do so.
Reimbursement from offender
If an award is made and the offender is found guilty of the offence, they may be ordered to reimburse the Western Australian government for all or part of the amount of compensation that was paid.
A person may appeal against an assessor’s decision to grant or refuse to grant an award of criminal injuries compensation, or against the amount of an award. This appeal must be made to the District Court within 21 days of the date of the assessor’s decision.
The District Court may confirm, vary or reverse the assessor’s decision.
The District Court’s decision is final.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.