Civil claims for damages
All victims have a right to pursue a civil claim for A court order for money to be paid to someone to compensate them for a loss suffered as a result of a civil wrong or breach of contract. For example, a person who caused a serious permanent injury to another person can be ordered by the court to pay damages that compensate the injured person for their loss of income from being unable to work. See also aggravated damages; compensatory damages; general damages; liquidated damages; nominal damages; special damages. against an A person who has committed a crime.. These claims are usually heard in the Magistrates’ or County An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate., depending on the seriousness of the injury and the amount of damages sought. (The monetary limits in civil matters are listed in Chapter 1.2: An introduction to the courts. For more information about claims for damages, see Chapter 10.1: An act that breaches a duty to take reasonable care and results in loss or damage to another person. See also tort. and injury.)
If you are considering making a civil claim against an offender, seek advice from a lawyer about the merits and prospects of success of such a claim, as it may be preferable to seek assistance from VOCAT (e.g. if the offender has no assets).
Compensation under the Sentencing Act
Sections 85A–85M of the Sentencing A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. 1991 (Vic) (‘Sentencing Act’) allow a victim to seek compensation for pain and suffering from the offender. The offender must have been found guilty. The application for compensation must be lodged within 12 months of the court’s decision, and must be submitted at the court that sentenced the offender. The court can also order the offender to pay the victim’s medical, counselling and other expenses.
Before making such an order, the offender must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. The court may take into account the offender’s financial circumstances.
Once the court has ordered the offender to pay the victim, it becomes a The amount of money that a court has ordered a debtor to pay.. The recovery of the Money that is owed by one person or business to another. depends on whether the offender has assets and on the enforcement process (see Chapter 5.2: Are you in debt?).
Comparison of Sentencing Act and VOCA Act
The main differences between the Sentencing Act and the VOCA Act are:
- compensation under the Sentencing Act can include an amount for pain and suffering that is higher than the limited amounts available for special financial assistance under the VOCA Act;
- under the Sentencing Act, compensation is paid by the offender (whose financial circumstances may be taken into account by the court when making the order); under the VOCA Act, financial assistance is paid for by the state; and
- for compensation to be payable under the Sentencing Act, the offender must have been found guilty, or convicted, by a court.
A victim considering seeking compensation from an offender should seek legal advice.