Criminal Injury Compensation

Criminal Injury Compensation
Criminal Injury Compensation in Australia

A criminal event is something no one wants to be a victim of nor witness. However in the modern world one cannot ignore the possibility of being a victim of crime.

In these circumstances, it is always best to be prepared for the possibility of an injury arising due to another person's criminal conduct. In the event you are injured in a crime, you are entitled to claim for compensation for the damages incurred as well as the cost of the medical treatment. If you are injured as an indirect result of another person's crime, for instance if someone was driving drunk and collided with your vehicle, then the perpetrator’s insurance company should handle and process the claim. If you are the victim of a direct violent crime, say a home invasion, then your claim will be against the individuals responsible. In these cases you will have to pursue the claim via the legal route and claim against the person's assets. When you launch a claim against another person's assets, essentially you are 'suing' them, and the case goes before a court of the land. Depending on the severity of the crime, the case could be heard in different levels of court. In any case of criminal injury, you will always rely on your lawyer to direct you and your claim.

What constitutes a criminal injury

Any injury that you suffered due to another's criminal action is considered a criminal injury. The bounds of the law determine the criminality of the action that caused your injury. In some cases the criminal act may not be directed at you, but rather the injury was a consequence of the crime. For example if a person robs a bank and does not directly harm you, but rather a ricocheted bullet hits you when they shoot the roof. In this case the injury is an indirect result of the crime: the robbery.

These cases will require you to pursue a legal claim against the criminal, if the bank and you do not have insurance. In cases of criminal injury, the claim can only be instigated when the person has been found guilty. Despite the blatant criminality of the act, it will still need to be proved in court. Similarly your case may need to be proved in court and if the person has not already been found guilty, the judge cannot hear the case.

The most common injuries related to criminal conduct are motor vehicle accidents due to driving under the influence of alcohol. However injuries such as gun shots, brain injuries, psychological trauma and stab wounds are not unheard of. Violent crimes must always be reported to the police and it is pertinent to your claim that the police investigate the case. Although as a victim you do not need to consult a lawyer when laying a charge with the authorities, if you intend to claim compensation for the damages incurred, it may be wise to consult with a lawyer and if possible lay the charge in the company of your attorney. When laying a claim for compensation it is vital to have all the facts as well as a logical and consistent case and so you should always contact a legal expert as soon as possible if you intend to launch a claim.

When the claim is launched, your lawyer will have to gather the evidence pertinent to the case and formulate an argument for your case. In the event that there is not compensation or settlement fee offered by this stage, then the case will have to be argued in a Court. Your local laws will dictate which Courts will hear what kind of cases and to what extent their ruling is held. For example, if a provincial Court hears a case murder, and rules in a particular way, the case can be appealed at a higher court and possibly re-opened. Usually in cases of compensatory claims, the case will be heard by a Claims Court and the judge will assess the evidence. At this point the case is not about whether the action was criminal or not, but whether the criminal action caused your injury and if so, to what extent should you be compensated. Your lawyer will present your case and propose to what extent you should be compensated and why. Because of the wide insurance coverage in Australia, compensatory claims are rare, however in the case of criminal injury the occurrence increases. Since many criminals do not own insurance, and some people may not own the necessary insurance themselves, criminal injury claims must be pursued.

How it works

When your case is heard in court, what the Judge must decide on is to what extent should you be compensated for your injuries. If for example you are rendered unable to work due to the action, you may have to show why you should be provided compensation beyond what is offered for unemployed or disabled people.

Further, the Judge will need to consider the medical evidence relevant to your injuries and whether the claim is justified. For example, you might be an artist and are unable to paint due to someone's crime. You might want to argue that the compensation provided is not adequate nor in proportion to what you earned or believe you would earn. So in the case of an artist who sells expensive paintings, she may wish to sue the criminal for further compensation to match what she earned prior to the crime.

All of the paperwork and evidence gathering will be handled by your attorney, unless the claim is small enough to be settled out of court, or via self-representation.

However these instances are rare and not advisable. When the claim is launched and heard in court, your lawyer will argue and present the evidence. Subsequently he will propose a sum and argue why the sum is appropriate. The Judge will then rule according to her assessment and order the perpetrator to pay the sum. It is exceedingly rare, however cases do arise where the claim is against a company, in which case the company may present a counter-argument. In these instances, your lawyer will have already done the necessary research and investigation. If your claim is against a company, you must always consult with professional legal experts. Companies are required by law to hold comprehensive insurance policies and if your claim is not successful with the insurance company, the chances are you will need go above and beyond the normal procedure to ensure a successful claim.

Don't panic!

The laws in Australia are exhaustive and accommodate for compensation to be provided by the State in the event of certain criminal injuries. You do not need to worry that you are at relentless risk of losing your livelihood, the society is designed to accommodate the needs of the citizens. Each part of the criminal and judiciary system will be able to assist in the claims process and you may rely on their testimony too. There are systems in place to prevent the necessity of these kinds of claims, however in the event you need to launch one, your lawyers will guide you through the process.

Criminal Injury Claims – Australian Lawyers (9)