A Guide to Victims of Crime and Medical Expenses

man in wheel chair

If you have been a victim of crime, you may be eligible for compensation to help cover any medical expenses that you incur as a result of the criminal activity. Medical bills can quickly add up and it’s not fair that victims of crime need to pay for the costs of their recovery.

There are programs of assistance in place to ensure that victims of crime can access all of the medical care and treatment they need, without needing to worry about the expense. Find out what kind of medical expenses are covered, how to apply for financial assistance, and the documentation you will need to make a claim.

What Kind of Medical Expenses Might a Victim of Crime Have?

There are many situations in which a victim of crime might sustain injuries that require medical attention. This most commonly happens when a person is the victim of a violent crime, such as an assault. However, it can also be the case in a traffic accident. Injuries can also be sustained incidentally as a result of a person being a witness to or a victim of criminal activity.

Some of the medical expenses that can be claimed by a victim of crime include hospital admission, surgery, anaesthesia, ambulance expenses, and emergency care. Additionally, victims of crime can claim for medical expenses in areas of dental, optometry, physiotherapy and other rehabilitation services. This is especially important if the process of recovery requires ongoing care and assistance.

How to Apply for Financial Assistance Medical Expenses

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) are responsible for financial assistance for medical expenses for victims of crime. Applicants who require assistance will need to lodge an application with the Tribunal.

The form can be lodged online, or you can fill in a paper version and mail it to the Tribunal. Some of the questions you will need to answer as part of the application include:

  • What was the act of violence?
  • At what address did the act of violence occur?
  • Was the alleged offender a family member or domestic partner?
  • Has the act of violence been reported to the police?
  • What effects have resulted from the act of violence (physical and psychological)?

Where medical expenses need to be paid for urgently, the Tribunal can use an interim award of financial assistance if they consider this to be appropriate.

Documentation Needed for Claims

All claims for financial assistance must be supported by medical evidence of the injury suffered by the applicant and the link between the injury and the crime committed. This means it is extremely important to keep track of all required documents and use these when lodging your application for a claim.

Some of the key documents you need to provide evidence about the cost of your medical care include:

  • Medical and hospital receipts
  • Reports from doctors and healthcare professionals
  • Evidence of expenses
  • Medicare rebate details.

Reports will be needed from healthcare providers (including doctors, dentists, surgeons, etc.) that confirm that the injury suffered was directly linked to the crime. If the victim of crime attended a public hospital, the Tribunal may obtain records directly from the hospital.

Other Ways to Seek Compensation

Aside from claiming financial assistance for medical expenses through VOCAT, there are other ways for victims of crime to seek compensation and cover the costs of medical bills.

If an injury occurred in the workplace, you may be able to claim for costs through WorkCover. If a crime was traffic or road-related, you may be able to claim through the Transport Accident Commission.

The public health system, or Medicare, is also there to offer support for people who need help paying for treatment. All hospital admissions to public hospitals are free for people within the Medicare system.

If you have private health insurance, you can also use this to claim back some of your medical expenses.

It’s worth noting that when you do use some of the above avenues to claim compensation as a victim of crime, this can reduce the amount of financial assistance that you can obtain from VOCAT.

Finally, it is possible to seek compensation directly from the offender if the accused person is found guilty of the crime committed against you. To do this, you will need to apply for a court order. This can make the offender compensate you for injuries caused by the crime.

Seeking compensation from the offender will require either a criminal court case, or a civil court action. Always get legal advice before trying to claim compensation through these avenues.

Do you need a Lawyer to Claim for Medical Expenses?

You do not require a lawyer to claim for financial assistance as a victim of crime. However, it can be helpful to work with a legal professional who can talk you through the process and answer any questions that you have. The team at RV Legal provide free, compassionate advice and assistance to victims of crime.