Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, the importance of a survivor’s right to appropriate compensation was recognised in every state and territory in Australia. Changes in laws governing the ability of survivors of child sexual (and serious physical) abuse to seek compensation for their very significant injuries mean that every survivor now needs to get the right legal advice from our child abuse lawyers about making a claim for the compensation they deserve, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.
Time limits for compensation claims related to child abuse were abolished in all Australian states and territories in or around 2015.
Before the important changes to the law, survivors of child sex abuse had to bring their legal claims within the applicable state/territory’s ‘limitation period’ (the time limit for claiming compensation), which in most cases was 3 years from the date of the abuse.
This restrictive limitation period meant that most survivors of abuse that occurred when they were children found themselves well outside this timeframe.
Some state/territory laws allowed small ‘windows’ in which a survivor could initiate their legal claim, but most individuals found it very difficult (indeed impossible) to find a child sexual abuse lawyer who was prepared to take on their ‘extension’ case on a no-win-no-fee basis. This left many survivors with no ability to seek the significant compensation that they rightly deserved.
With the removal of this 3-year time limit, survivors are now able to at least have their cases looked at carefully, and in most instances, are now able to pursue recovery of the significant compensation they are entitled to for the often life-long injury they have been left with due to the abuse they suffered as a child.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of child abuse, then you (or they) will most probably have an important and valuable right to significant compensation.
Notably, while the time limitation period referred to above has been removed as a particular barrier, other challenges still present in order to make a successful claim for compensation for child abuse, so getting the right legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer is paramount. Our child abuse lawyers have considerable experience in helping survivors of child sex abuse recover the compensation they deserve.
There are two avenues available to pursue compensation due to child sexual abuse.
A Common law claim; and
Payment of a lump sum under the National Redress Scheme
A survivor of child abuse (sexual, psychological and/or physical) can usually make a common law claim for damages for the life-long injuries they have endured.
Common law claims involve a number of factors. This is a complex area of law, but our experienced child abuse lawyers will explain in plain language your rights to bring a common law claim.
Compensation payable with a common law claim includes:
pain and suffering damages;
past and future economic loss (loss of income and future income potential);
past and future medical and allied health-related expenses;
past and future care (if relevant); and in many cases
A common law claim for damages is an important right that nearly all survivors of child abuse have, but you only get one chance to recover the compensation you deserve for the often very significant injury you have suffered due to the abuse. Having an experienced abuse lawyer on your side is critical in ensuring that you recover the maximum compensation that you deserve.
If making a common law claim for whatever reason is not possible, the Australian Federal Government has set up a redress scheme for survivors of child sex abuse.
This is referred to as the National Redress Scheme (NRS).
Payments under the NRS are capped, with the maximum amount payable under the scheme being $150,000.
The scheme does not compensate the survivor for things like their past and future loss of earnings (due to the abuse) nor for their specific medical expenses related to the trauma. You can read more about what you might be able to recover under the scheme under the heading below, “What can I recover under the National Redress Scheme?”
Whether a claim under the National Redress Scheme is the better (or indeed the only) option for a survivor of child abuse is something that our abuse lawyers can take you through. You can then make an informed decision as to what you would like to do.
In most cases, however, the common law damages option is the more appropriate one to pursue as it will usually result in far greater compensation being recovered by the survivor of child abuse. Cameron Hall will always run common law claims on a no-win-no-fee basis.
If you were sexually or physically abused as a child, then the types of damages that you are entitled to seek include:
The amount a court awards for this component of damages will depend on which state or territory the abuse occurred in. But suffice it to say, it is a substantial amount regardless of where the abuse occurred.
The significant injuries suffered by survivors will typically result in a very significant adverse impact on their ability to earn an income. Indeed, in many instances, the survivor has not been able to work at all due to their injuries. This will mean that the damages for their loss of income (past and into the future) can be very substantial as it typically will be calculated over an extensive period (in some cases up to 47 years).
These costs can add up to a substantial sum of money to cover what a person has had to pay in the past, as well as what they will have to incur into the future.
Some survivors of abuse require substantial care and assistance from others (family and/or close friends). Depending on when and in which state or territory the abuse occurred, compensation for such care can usually be recovered by the survivor.
An important point to note at the outset is that a survivor of abuse cannot recover a lump sum payment through the Scheme and also recover common law damages.
Careful consideration needs to be given as to which option is to be finally pursued. Legal advice should be sought to ensure that survivors of abuse are confident about which is the best option for them. Indeed, in some instances, the better way to proceed is to apply for an NRS benefit and, at the same time, initiate a common law claim and make a decision about which is the most appropriate option once an ‘offer’ is made under the NRS.
As noted above, under the National Redress Scheme, a survivor can only recover a maximum of $150,000, whereas, with a common law claim for damages, the amount claimed will usually be substantially more than this maximum amount.
Further, while the National Redress Scheme provides for a maximum of $150,000, the majority of claims are assessed at an amount significantly less than this (a recent review of all payouts under the scheme notes the average payment to be about $80,000). Once you accept the lump sum offered under the National Redress Scheme, you cannot then subsequently pursue a common law claim (usually for a lot more than what might be available under the National Redress Scheme).
Our experienced abuse lawyers will be able to assess your case and determine which is the better option for you on a no-win-no-fee basis.
Our child abuse lawyers will discuss with you (or your loved one, carer or guardian) the legal options available to you in easy-to-understand language.
We will act for you on a no-win-no-fee basis regardless of which option(s) you pursue.