The victim can claim compensation for:
- pain and suffering (non financial loss);
- financial losses such as loss of earnings or reduced ability to earn; and
- past and future treatment costs.
The amount the victim will receive depends on several factors:
- when the offence happened;
- how severe the injury was;
- whether the victim’s own actions contributed to the offence or to the injury;
- whether the victim co-operated with police enquiries;
and, for offences after 1 January, 2003:
- whether the victim has taken reasonable steps to keep their loss to a minimum.
As of 1 July 2015 the following limits apply to payments for compensation:
- payments for grief are capped at $20 000 (indexed);
- funeral expenses are capped at $14 000 (indexed);
- the maximum amount* of compensation (including for aggregate amounts for financial and non-financial loss) is $100 000.
The maximum amounts of compensation payable under the respective legislation are:
22 January 1970 to 10 April 1974 $1 000.00
11 April 1974 to 30 June 1978 $2 000.00
1 July 1978 to 30 July 1987 $10 000.00
1 August 1987 to 31 August 1990 $20 000.00
Since 1 September 1990 $50 000.00
However, in working out whether the maximum payment has been reached, funeral expenses are not taken into account. These can be claimed separately.
Calculating the claim
The exact rules about the amount claimable depend on the date of the offence.
If the offence occurred between 1 September 1990 and 12 August 1993, the amount of compensation for the injury is calculated as follows:
- for claims up to $2000 - that amount
- for claims exceeding $2000 - the sum of $2000 plus 3/4 of the balance of the claim as assessed
- for claims exceeding $50 000 - the sum of $50 000.
For injuries incurred as a result of offences committed after 12 August 1993 the entitlement to compensation for financial loss is determined in the same way. However, a claim for pain and suffering is assessed on a points scale of between 0 and 50 (with 50 being the most serious possible injury). One point on the scale is equivalent to $1000 compensation. An injury must be worth at least one point for the plaintiff to receive any compensation, so very minor injuries are excluded. The statutory limit for compensation is $50 000.
For claims arising from offences on or after 1 January 2003 and before 1 July 2015, there is no payment for pain and suffering unless the injury equates to more than 2 points on the scale, but there is no threshold for a claim for financial loss. The formula limiting financial loss claims is the same as above, as is the statutory limit [Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA) s 20(3)].
For claims arising from offences committed on or after 1 July 2015:
- in cases of financial loss: if the amount to be awarded exceeds $2 000 the amount will be $2 000 plus three-quarters of the excess;
- in cases of non-financial loss: the total non-financial loss must be assigned a numerical value on a scale of 0 to 60 and if the value assigned is 2 or less no award will be made. Where the value assigned is greater than 2, the amount awarded will be determined by reference to Schedule a1 of the Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA) e.g. if assigned a value of 35 then the amount to be awarded will be $40 333 (indexed).
Further limits on compensation
The victim cannot be compensated for losses that have already been compensated, or could be compensated, from another source. For example, medical or hospital expenses that are recoverable from a private health fund or from Medicare, cannot be claimed. Likewise, if the victim has an entitlement to compensation under the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA) or has an insurance policy that covers the loss, this will be taken into account.
In cases where an offence has been committed by more than one offender, or where one offender has committed a series of offences consecutively or simultaneously, the victim is entitled to only one claim for compensation [s 23].
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.