IF YOU’VE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED, CAN YOU CLAIM COMPENSATION?

Silhouette of sad teenage girl looking out the window on a cold autumn day

By Andrew Carpenter

Victims of sexual abuse so often carry the burden of this trauma for the rest of their lives. Compensation might not ease the pain and suffering, but it can help in the recovery process by assisting with medical expenses, loss of income and other costs.

There are many avenues through which victims of sexual abuse can make claims against their abusers (perpetrators), government bodies or even employers of the perpetrators. If you’re thinking about making a claim, it helps to know your rights.

How to make a civil claim  

A civil claim is a private claim that is commenced by filing a court action. It can made against anyone who is or ought to be responsible for the abuse – the perpetrator, a government agency or an employer. It is not necessary for the perpetrator to have been found guilty of the offence. The action can be commenced at any time, even if there are no criminal proceedings, and it can be commenced even if the perpetrator was found not-guilty in the criminal proceedings.

This is because the civil case will have a lower standard of proof. If a person is found guilty of a criminal offence, it must be beyond reasonable doubt. That means that the court (or jury) must be absolutely certain that the person committed the offence. In civil cases, the case must be proved on the balance of probabilities, meaning that the judge must be satisfied that it is more probable than not that the person committed the crime.

The biggest problem for Courts in these claims is how to assess damages. That is, working out how much money should be awarded to the victim. This is because the harm to the victim is usually emotional and physical. Many times there is no financial loss that can be used as evidence to prove the victim’s loss. For that reason, it’s a good idea to engage an experienced lawyer who can carefully prepare your claim.

There is a time limit of 3 years in which to make a civil claim (limitation period). This can present problems for many victims, as research suggests that the average timeframe for making a civil claim for sexual abuse is 30 years. If the victim was under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred then they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.

However, the law allows for extensions of time in some circumstances and it is worth getting thorough legal advice about making a potential claim, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

Victims of Crime Compensation

Victims of Crime Compensation (VOC Compensation) is an effective safety net in circumstances where there has been sexual abuse but the perpetrator has not been convicted of a criminal offence, or is classified as an unknown offender. This means that even though the crime was committed, the offender disappeared or could not be identified. It is also the better option when the perpetrator wouldn’t be able to pay compensation even if they were ordered to do so by the Court.

The victim can still lodge a claim for compensation and from 1 July 2016, the maximum amount of compensation was $100,000.

VOC compensation claims can be made for pain and suffering, medical expenses and financial loss. They cannot be made for damage to property.

Victims are allowed to claim damages under a civil action and also make a VOC compensation claim, although the Government may seek reimbursement for any compensation that has already been paid to the victim.

Royal Commission

The Child Abuse Royal Commission is now in its fourth year. A final report is anticipated by December 2017.

In September 2015, it released an interim report with 100 recommendations, including:

  • That there should be one scheme in Australia for victim compensation.
  • That there should be no limitation periods for victims of child abuse whilst in the care of an institution.

With its daily hearings regularly hitting the news headlines, the Royal Commission has done much to put sexual abuse on the national agenda. This kind of publicity is usually a good way to ensure that governments properly respond to recommendations and introduce important reforms.

It means that sexual abuse continues to be a hugely important issue in Australia.

If you have experienced sexual abuse, you are entitled to make a claim for damages or compensation, although choosing which path to take may be challenging. Websters Lawyers is here to help. We have lawyers who are highly experienced in sexual abuse compensation matters, as well as victims of crime lawyers.

Contact us now for a free initial consultation. It could be a significant step in your healing process.

FREE FIRST INTERVIEW

NO WIN NO FEE*

LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS

GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST

call now

*Conditions Apply

Testimonials

Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner

Sebastian

Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.

Nicholas

West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.

Kerry

Ridgehaven

Patient and helpful in explaining the process.

Brian

Ridgehaven

Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.

Christine

Magill

Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.

Christina

Highbury

Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.

Garth

Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.

Jeffrey

Brompton

Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.

Alexis

Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Christina

Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.

Mary

Ridgehaven

Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed

John

Ridgehaven

I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.

Diane 

Ridgehaven

The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.

Julie

Yorketown

[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.

Craig

Golden Grove

 

I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.

Rod

Dernancourt

It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.

Kathleen

Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.

John

Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 

Gordon

Glengowrie

Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!

Phillip

Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].

Janet

Adelaide

[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.

Jonathan

Greenwith

[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.

Rachel

Greenwith

Professional. Smooth Transaction. 

Luke

Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.

Ethel

Smithfield

This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.

Stephen

Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair

 

With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park

 

Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys

 

I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact Us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright WebstersLawyers.com 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing