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Compensation for victims of crime

Compensation for victims of crime

I have been injured as the result of a crime. What are my options for compensation?

If you have been injured or suffered loss as a result of a criminal offence, you may be able to:

  • make a compensation claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA).
  • bring a common law claim against the offender.
  • ask the court sentencing the offender to give you a compensation or restitution order against the offender. See Court orders for compensation and restitution for more information.

Will any compensation affect my Centrelink payments?

If you are in receipt of Centrelink payments or a pension, you should check what impact the compensation will have on your past or future payments. Contact a Centrelink Customer Service Centre. 

What is criminal injuries compensation?

Victims of crime who have suffered an injury can apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA).

A claim for criminal injuries compensation can be made for injury caused by, and/or loss from, an offence which occurred on or after 22 January 1971. If the incident happened before this seek legal advice.

For more information see the Department of Justice website.

Do I have to report the offence to the police to make a criminal injuries compensation claim?

You should report the offence to the police as soon as possible and give them whatever information and help you can to identify, find and prosecute the alleged offender. Even if no one is caught or convicted, you may still make a claim and may receive compensation.

When making a report to the police make sure you write down the name of the police officer and the report number.

In some circumstances you may not be awarded compensation if you have not fully helped the police in their enquiries. You would need a very good reason for not reporting the offence to the police.

Do time limits apply?

There is a three year time limit to make a claim for criminal injuries compensation. The time limit runs from the date the incident took place. It may be extended if the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation decides you had a good reason or reasons for not making the claim within that time.

Sometimes you will not know the extent of your injury before the three year time limit ends. In this case, you should:

  • Lodge your claim before the time limit ends.
  • Send a letter with it to the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation saying that your injuries have not settled and you will send more information when they have.

Your claim will be rejected until the extra information is given in your application but you may not have to ask for an extension of time later.

The time limit may be extended in some cases, particularly if you were injured as a child, or had an intellectual impairment at the time. If you believe you have a claim but are outside the time limit you should get legal advice.

What does the compensation cover?

Compensation is available for:

  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • loss of income
  • medical expenses, which includes the costs of getting medical reports
  • other incidental expenses (such as travel for medical treatment and loss/damage of clothing, footwear or aids).

In the case of death, a close relative may be eligible for funeral expenses and compensation for the loss of financial support. If a close relative has paid for funeral expenses they can be compensated.

See the Department of Justice website.

Who makes the decision about awarding compensation?

The decision whether or not to make an award and how much the award should be is made by an Assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation.

Do I need legal advice?

Many of the issues regarding a claim for compensation are complex. You should get legal advice if:

  • the offence has not been reported to the police
  • the offender is acquitted of the offence
  • the offender is not charged
  • the victim is a child
  • you were injured as a child
  • you have suffered long term sexual abuse
  • you are unsure of your injuries or loss
  • you do not claim within the three year time limit
  • you wish to make a claim for mental or psychological injury
  • you are a close relative of a person killed as a result of the offence and wish to make a claim for:
      • loss of financial support and/or
      • funeral expenses
  • you wish to make a claim for future loss of earnings
  • a hearing is arranged
  • you are not satisfied with the amount of compensation you receive and wish to appeal
  • you receive a query from the Australian Taxation Office about payment of tax on an award.

If you cannot afford to see a private lawyer, you may be able to get legal advice and legal representation from Legal Aid WA. Legal advice appointments are free. A fee will only be charged if legal aid is granted to represent you in an application for criminal injuries compensation, and only if your application for compensation is successful. Call Legal Aid WA's Infoline on 1300 650 579 for assistance with appropriate referral within Legal Aid WA or to other organisations.

If I pay a private lawyer to help with my application can I claim the legal costs?

If you pay a lawyer the Assessor cannot reimburse your legal costs.

How do I make a claim?

Contact the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation on (08) 9425 3250 Level 12, International House, 26 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 or download a form from the Department of Justice website. In limited circumstances a senior case manager may be able to assist you fill out the form.

What information do I include?

Your application must include:

  • any medical, psychiatric or psychological reports
  • incident and prosecution details (for example, date, place of incident, offence number, was anyone charged etc)
  • a written account in your own words of what the injury is and how the offence and injury has affected you, eg any change which has happened in your work, home or social life as a result of the offence
  • proof of any expenses such as your loss of income, medical expenses including the cost of medical reports, transport costs, the replacement of any damaged personal items, funeral expenses.

I have to pay for treatment now but am not yet ready to put in my final claim. Can I get any reimbursement now?

You may be able to get an interim payment. An interim payment is a reimbursement or up front payment for expenses you have as a result of the injury. A payment can be made at any time after the incident and can be for funeral, medical report or treatment costs. An interim payment forms part of your award if your application is accepted.

To make a claim you need to provide as much information as possible. Get legal advice.

The interim payment amounts cannot exceed 3% of the maximum amount that could be awarded.

What if I get an interim payment and then my application is refused?

If the application for compensation is refused and an interim payment is made, it becomes a debt to the State.

Get legal advice.

What happens after I put the application in?

The Department of Justice  website has a brochure you can download which sets out what happens after you put your application in.

Does the offender have to know that I have made a claim?

The offender will be told that you have made a claim. They may be given an edited copy of your claim and your medical reports. The offender will not be told where you live. You can write and ask the Assessor not to show the offender a copy of your claim and medical reports. You should give the Assessor your reasons for not wanting the offender to see your documents. In most cases the Assessor will not proceed with the claim without the offender viewing the reports.

The offender has the right to answer your claim and to get legal advice.

I am not happy with what I have been awarded. Can I appeal the decision?

You have the right to appeal to the District Court of WA if you are not happy with the amount of compensation awarded.

For information on who can appeal, time limits to appeal, what needs to be done if you are out of time, the forms required and costs go to the District Court of WA website. A procedure guide is also available on the District Court website.

Can the offender also appeal the decision?

Yes, the offender can appeal.

What is a common law claim?

You may have another type of claim available to you called "a common law claim" if you have suffered injury or loss through a criminal offence.

Whether this type of claim is better in your situation will depend on the facts of the case and the offender's ability to pay. A lawyer will be able to advise you on this.

The most usual common law claims result from assault and battery.

There is a time limit within which you must start your court action for a common law claim. In some cases the court can extend a time limit. Get legal advice.

The offender has been charged and is going to court. Can I claim anything at court?

You may be able to claim compensation and/or restitution under the Sentencing Act 1995 (WA).

When the person responsible for the crime against you is convicted, you may be able to apply to the court sentencing the offender for a compensation or restitution order.

If a compensation or restitution order is made in your favour you may still:

  • make a claim for criminal injuries compensation
  • make a common law claim.

See Court orders for compensation and restitution for more information.

What support is available for victims of crime?

The Victim Support Service offers confidential counselling and referral for victims of crime. Contact the Victim Support Service on (08) 9425 2850 or freecall 1800 818 988 for information and regional service locations. The Perth service is located in the District Court Building, Level 2, 500 Hay Street, Perth 6000.

Where can I get more information?

  • Department of Justice WA website select Victim Support Service for more information. The website gives details about support services for victims and about how victims can be involved in the court process, for example, writing a victim impact statement.

  • Victims of Crime website for information including on supports for victims of crime and safety and protection issues.

  • Legal Aid WA's Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referral. Click here to download an information sheet Compensation for victims of crime.

  • Your local community legal centre may be able to provide you with legal advice if you need it, and assist you to prepare your application. 

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS), Aboriginal Family Law Services (AFLS) and Marninwarntikura Family Violence Prevention Unit offer legal and counselling services for victims of family violence and/or sexual assault who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, or whose partner or children are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island peoples, including for criminal injuries compensation where it relates to family violence and sexual assault. Contact:

    • Perth FVPLS (Djinda Services) on (08) 9200 2202.

    • AFLS on (08) 9355 1502 or 1800 469 246 (freecall) or go to its website for the contact details of other AFLS offices in regional areas.

    • Albany FVPLS on (08) 9842 7751.

    • Marninwarntikura Family Violence Prevention Unit on (08) 9191 5284 or (08) 9191 5417.

  • Visit the WA Government's website.

Last reviewed: 03/08/2017

Last modified: 3/08/2017 3:52 PM

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.