The Victims Compensation Scheme provides support to victims of violent crimes in NSW, including counselling and financial assistance.
There are a number of requirements that need to be met in order to be eligible for an award of compensation, including:
- Whether the incident was reported to Police or another government agency.
- Medical evidence of injuries suffered as a result of the act of violence.
- Whether the victim assisted police with any investigations.
What is an offence?
An offence is an “act of violence” that results in an injury. This may seem like a straight forward concept, however, it is important to discuss what is covered with your solicitor.
Generally speaking, the following are considered to be acts of violence:
1. Sexual Assault.
2. Domestic Violence, including physical and psychological abuse.
How long will the claim take to finalise?
It is difficult to estimate how long a claim will take to finalise. Victims Services advises that a claim can take up to 2 years from lodging the application to be finalised. You will not be required to go to Court and most of the process will be handled by your solicitor.
What legal fees are involved?
You will be required to pay Marsdens' professional fees on a no-win, no-pay basis, at the conclusion of your matter, as Victims Services does not pay legal fees. You may be required to fund minimal expenses such as clinical notes from a hospital or your doctor. This will be discussed with you by your solicitor if needed.
What type of evidence should I provide?
The evidence required to pursue a recognition payment includes:
- A report from the Police or other government agency, and;
- Medical evidence of an injury caused by the act of violence.
In addition, receipts for any claims relating to immediate needs and financial assistance should be submitted. This includes receipts for:
- Medical and dental expenses.
- Assistance with living expenses, such as rent assistance, furniture and household bills.
- Relocation costs.
Evidence will be required to pursue a claim for wage loss. This will be discussed with you by your solicitor.
All police documentation or medical evidence in your possession should be provided to your solicitor.
Types of Compensation
A Recognition Payment is an award of lump sum compensation. This sum of money is awarded in recognition of the trauma suffered from an act of violence.
Compensation is awarded in accordance with the type of offence. There are 4 categories ranging in value from $1,500.00 to $15,000.00, depending on the nature of the offence.
Compensation is available for a range of expenses you may have incurred as a result of the act of violence. These include relocation costs if you have had to move to a safer location, changing locks, emergency medical and dental care, crime scene clean up costs and funeral expenses.
This covers compensation for any financial loss you may have suffered as a result of the act of violence, such as reasonable travel expenses, medical and dental expenses and assistance with living expenses. You may also receive compensation for actual wage loss if your injury prevented you from working.
Your solicitor can advise you further in respect of the various benefits available under the scheme and whether they are applicable to you.
Can I recover my lost wages?
Yes, you may be able to claim up to $20,000.00 for actual wage loss provided that you have sufficient evidence in support of your claim. This includes payslips, tax returns, a letter from your employer confirming days off and medical evidence. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide Notices of Assessment, bank statements and a report from your accountant, detailing income received from the business.
Will the person responsible for my injuries have to pay my compensation?
All compensation monies awarded are paid to the victim by the Victims Compensation Scheme directly. The offender (the person who caused the injury) may be pursued by the Scheme to repay the compensation awarded to a victim if he or she has been convicted in a Criminal Court for the particular offence. If the offender was not convicted, they will not be required to repay the compensation to the Scheme.
Are there time limits?
There are strict time limits in which to lodge an application for Victims Compensation. These are as follows:
- Within 2 years of the act of violence, or
- Within 2 years of turning 18 for minors.
- Within 10 years of the act of violence or within 10 years of turning 18, if a child at the time of the act of violence, for claims relating to domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
- There is no time limit for victims of sexual assault if they were a child at the time the incident(s) occurred.
- There is no time limit to lodge an application for counselling only.
Why do I need a solicitor?
It is always advantageous to have a solicitor review your claim. A solicitor will handle the day to day carriage of the matter, leaving you to concentrate on the recovery process.
Marsdens will help gather the evidence necessary to make a successful claim for compensation.