Our Legal Services
Compensating Victims of Crime
Who can claim?
If you have been the victim of a violent crime including a sexual assault or molestation you may be able to seek compensation in the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. This can include a lump sum payment up to $10,000, as well as counselling costs, loss of wages, medical bills and replacing damaged clothing. In some cases it may be possible to claim a special award such as the costs of a holiday, a computer, or a self defence course to assist with the healing process.
Where someone has died as a result of a violent crime their family members may be able to claim as “related victims”.
Other people such as witnesses to violent crimes or parents of victims may also have rights to claim for counselling costs as “secondary victims”.
What do I need to do to make a claim?
As a first step it is important to report the attack to the police. This may apply even if the attacker is unknown or in the case of an incident from childhood the attack happened many years ago.
It is then necessary to complete an application for assistance. The forms for this can be found on the Tribunal website or at a local Magistrates’ Court. Alternatively you may contact us to help you. Lawyers’ fees for doing this work can be claimed from the Tribunal to ensure you do not have to worry about finding money for this.
Do I have to go to Court?
Once the Tribunal has accepted the application for filing it is necessary to have a professional psychological report prepared. This is to give the Tribunal important information such as how the attack has affected you. We can arrange this report on your behalf. Sometimes your counsellor will do this. Again the costs of this may be claimed from the Tribunal.
The Tribunal will also provide a Statement of Claim form on which you set out the items you are claiming while attaching copies of reports and tax invoices where appropriate. We can complete this for you if you wish.
Once all the necessary documents have been filed with the Tribunal it may make a preliminary ruling without a Court hearing. If this is done you will receive a notice of the decision with the option to accept it or reject it.
If you accept the decision the matter will be finished and payments made accordingly without any need for you to attend Court.
If you wish to challenge the preliminary decision, for example by seeking a higher award, then the Tribunal will fix a date for a hearing. If you prefer this can be in a closed Court i.e. a hearing where only you, your lawyer and the magistrate hearing the case are permitted into the Court room to protect your privacy.
For any Tribunal hearing it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice, which we are happy to provide.
It is important to remember that claims for compensation may take many months to finalise particularly if someone has been charged by Police over your attack. In such cases the Tribunal will often await the outcome of the criminal case before determining your claim.
Are there time limits to apply?
There is a time limit for applying of two years from the date of the attack. However this can be extended in some circumstances such as when the offence happened in childhood or the victim has been suffering psychological trauma since the attack.
If you believe you have a claim that is outside the two-year time limit you should act on this as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us if you need assistance with this.
Is it possible to sue an attacker through the Courts?
When a victim has suffered serious long-term injury including psychiatric injury because of a violent assault or sexual abuse, they may have the right to sue their attacker in the County or Supreme Court. Whether this is worth doing may depend on what if any property the attacker has that could be used to pay out any sum of money the Court may order them to pay.
Where there is a strong case and the attacker has significant property we may be able to run your case on the basis we receive payment of our fees at the end of the case.
With cases like this there are important time-limits which vary according to the type of claim. Therefore if you are thinking about such a case you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. We are happy to discuss this with you at a free interview if you wish.
If you would like a free 30 minute interview to discuss any of the above information please feel free to contact us.