If you have been the victim of a violent crime in Western Australia, you may be able to obtain compensation for your criminal injuries and any financial losses incurred as a result of the injuries. You may also be able to obtain compensation if you are the close family member of a victim.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 governs such claims.
Who is eligible for compensation?
Compensation can be awarded to:
- a person who suffers injury as a direct result of a criminal act;
- a close relative of a person who dies as a result of an offence and who suffers loss as a result of that death.
- A close relative who suffers a psychological injury as a result of the criminal act towards the victim.
A close relative includes a parent, grandparent, child, spouse or partner.
What is an injury?
Injury includes a physical and mental harm. It also includes pregnancy resulting from a criminal offence.
What is a loss?
Loss includes any expenses reasonably incurred as a result of the criminal injuries. This may include travel costs to medical appointments, damage to clothing or lost earnings while off work.
Does the offender have to have been found guilty?
No. A person can be awarded compensation if the assessor is satisfied that the offence occurred and that the claimed injury or loss resulted from it. This is the case even if no one has been charged with the offence or if someone has been charged but not found guilty.
However, you should report the offence to police and provide them with as much information as you can. You will generally not be awarded compensation unless you have done everything you could to assist the police to identify and prosecute the offender.
How do I make a claim?
Complete an application form and attached the details of:
- Your medical reports;
- Incident and prosecution details;
- Details of your criminal injuries and how they have affected you;
- Proof of any expenses you have incurred eg funeral costs, travel costs or time off work.
Most claims are assessed without the claimant having to be present. However, in some cases a hearing is arranged, and you and the offender may need to attend. You can be represented by a lawyer at the hearing.
You may be required to attend a doctor or psychologist to obtain a report.
You will be advised in writing of the outcome of your claim.
A claim for criminal injuries compensation should be lodged within three years of the date of the offence of within three years of the date of the last offence where there have been a number of offences against you by the same offender.
A claim for compensation made outside of the time limit may be accepted if there are good reasons why it was not made within the three-year period.
When you make a compensation claim, the offender will be notified of the claim. They may be provided with your medical reports detailing the injuries you are claiming for. They will not be given your contact details. If you do not want the offender to be given this information you can write to the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation and tell them your reasons.
If the offender is found guilty of an offence that relates to your claim, they may be asked to pay the government all or part of the money you were awarded.
Can I appeal?
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your claim, you can appeal to the District Court. This must be done within 21 days of the date the order is made. The decision by the District Court is not appealable.
The offender may also appeal the decision.
If an appeal is lodged, the Office of Criminal Injuries will not pay the award until the appeal has been dealt with.
Other types of claims
As an alternative to applying for criminal injuries compensation, you may wish to make a common law claim against the offender. Whether this is advisable will depend on whether the offender is in a position to pay. It is always advisable to seek legal advice to ascertain whether a common law claim or a criminal injuries claim is more appropriate.
If you are the victim of institutional child sexual abuse, you may be eligible for compensation under the National Redress Scheme. This scheme is an alternative to obtaining compensation through the courts and can provide counselling, a personal response such as an apology, and/or a monetary payment.
If you require legal advice or representation in any type of legal matter please contact Go To Court Lawyers.