Elaine Bright – Pace Personal Injury Lawyer in Kenora: Many of us have been victims of crime. If we are victims of property crime, we usually call our insurance company, and obtain whatever compensation we are entitled to. But if we are victims of violent crime, most of us don’t know where to turn for compensation.
In some cases, a victim of violent crime in Ontario can seek compensation by taking legal action against the person who committed the crime, and their insurance company. But in many cases, people who commit crimes do not have insurance, or their own resources, to pay a settlement or award in a legal proceeding.
The Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) provides financial compensation to eligible victims of violent crime that took place in Ontario. This compensation is intended for victims who are not in a position to sue the person who committed the crime. If a law suit is commenced, and a judgment or award made to the victim, the CICB must be reimbursed.
Victims are supposed to apply for compensation within two years of the crime taking place, but the Board can extend the time for filing.
Anyone who has suffered significant physical or psychological harm as a victim of crimes such as assault, sexual assault or arson, can apply for compensation. Dependents of someone who was murdered can also apply for compensation, or anyone who supported the deceased or paid funeral expenses. Even someone who witnessed a crime such as murder can apply for compensation if they experienced “mental or nervous shock.”
Amount of Compensation
The size of awards given by the CICB is small compared to awards made in civil court proceedings. The average award in the CICB process is about $8,000. The maximum that can be given as a lump sum is $25,000. Fortunately, Ontario Works and ODSP allow recipients to retain the full amount of lump sum awards from the CICB.
The CICB can also award periodic payments of up to $1,000 per month in some situations, such as when someone becomes disabled as a result of an assault. These awards are much less common than lump sum awards.
It is important to know that the CICB does not provide compensation for loss of property, or for harm resulting from motor vehicle accidents, or crimes that take place outside Ontario.
Victims are supposed to apply for compensation within two years of the crime taking place, but the Board can extend the time for filing if the Applicant provides valid reasons for not filing sooner. In the case of sexual assault, and assaults on children, it is generally accepted that victims may need to wait many years before being ready to talk about the crimes that caused them harm.
Do you need a lawyer to apply for compensation? In theory, no. If you can do your own income tax, you can probably apply to the CICB on your own. Application forms are available on the CICB website. The forms, however, are quite long (15 pages). In some cases, Legal Aid may be able to assist. Alternatively, some lawyers will help with these types of claims, but will charge fees, payable when an award is made.
I know a lot of people whose lives have been seriously impacted by violent crime committed against them as children, and as adults. And I want everyone to know that some compensation is available. Both the process of pursing an award, and the receipt of an award, can help with healing.
Do you know someone who is the victim of violent crime? Let’s all pass the word on.
Elaine Bright is a lawyer with Pace Law Firm. She handles cases in Kenora and throughout Northwestern Ontario. Pace’s personal injury lawyers have been helping accident victims in Toronto and throughout Ontario since 1980.