Injury claims must normally be made within three years of the date of the offence. Extra time may be available if the victim is unable to manage his or her own legal affairs because of mental incapacity.
Death claims must be made within twelve months of the death of the victim.
Late claims can be made if the court allows them, but it is best to get legal advice well before the time limit runs out. If you have a claim but time has run out seek legal advice about an extension.
See also Children and young people.
Legal advice – risks of unsuccessful claims
Victims seeking compensation for criminal injuries should get legal advice. The cost of a successful claim is limited by law and is generally paid by the Fund. The victim, however, bears the cost of an unsuccessful claim unless there is some other arrangement with the lawyer. A lawyer can usually tell you at an early stage whether your claim is likely to succeed or not.
Steps in making a claim
The first step in making a claim is to send the Crown Solicitor the information and documents required by law [see Victims of Crime (Statutory Compensation) Regulations 2004 (SA) Parts 1 and 2]. This includes:
- information about the victim and the claimant;
- details of the offence and when it was reported to police;
- details of the nature and extent of the injury and the losses caused;
- in cases of homicide, the relationship of the claimant to the victim and details of the date of death and the date of the funeral;
- police records and statements;
- hospital reports or reports from general practitioner or dentist;
- photographs (where a claim is being made for permanent disability due to scarring or disfigurement);
- statement of loss of earnings.
If you have a lawyer they will do this for you.
The Crown considers this information and, if the claim is accepted, can negotiate a payment with the victim or the victim’s lawyer. Many cases are resolved without going to court and without the victim having any further contact with the offender.
The application must be served on the offender unless their identity is unknown or the Crown Solicitor exempts the claimant from this requirement on the grounds that the offender’s whereabouts are unknown or cannot be easily determined [Victims of Crime 2001 (SA) s 18(4)(c)]. The Crown Solicitor may disclose to a victim any information concerning the whereabouts of an offender for the purpose of facilitating service of documents on the offender [s 34A].
If the claim is not settled
If the claim is not settled between the claimant and the Crown Solicitor within three months, an application for compensation can be issued in the Criminal Injuries Division of the District Court [s18(5)]. The State of South Australia and the offender (if known) are defendants to this action. It will proceed to trial unless the parties agree on some other result.
An application to the court must be made either within the initial application period (i.e. 3 years from the date of the offence) or within 6 months immediately after the negotiation period has ended. Whichever is the later of these two dates will be the deadline by which the application must be lodged [s 18(6)]. The court may extend this limitation period “for any proper reason”.
A party dissatisfied with a decision of the Court can appeal to the Supreme Court within 21 days (or any longer period the Court allows.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.