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What are the Legal Options for Institutional Abuse Victims?

Legal Options for Institutional Abuse Victims

Institutional sexual abuse is being exposed for the first time in modern history. It is no longer something that people ignore and do not talk about when it happens. The victims of institutional abuse finally have legal options available to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

Thanks to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse, the survivors of institutional sexual abuse no longer must live in silence. They can file a claim for a settlement that is significant, even if they were forced to waive their right to file future claims after a previous settlement.

Below are the top six legal options for institutional abuse victims. It does not matter if you were abused recently or decades ago. These legal options are available to all living victims and survivors of institutional abuse.

1) Civil Claim

Sometimes a civil claim can be worth more than a redress payment. That is why you should not automatically file a claim through the National Redress Scheme. Talk with an attorney regarding your case and find out if a damages claim could earn you a higher settlement.

If the offending institution has not signed up with the National Redress Scheme or fails to respond to your allegations, then you should file a claim for damages in civil court.  You can receive compensation for lifelong suffering incurred due to the incident. The court will consider your long-term trauma experienced, lost wages in the past, and potentially lost wages in the future.

While the redress payment does not pay over $150,000, a damages claim could be worth well over that amount. It all depends on the length and seriousness of the abuse.

2) Institutional Abuse Compensation

The Australian Government has established an institutional abuse compensation program called the National Redress Scheme.

It is designed to compensate the victims of child sexual abuse, whether it happened recently or in the past. If your institutional abuse case is validated, you could receive a redress payment of $10,000 to $150,000. The exact amount you are entitled to receive will depend on how frequent the abuse occurred and the severity of the abuse.

If you have already filed a separate lawsuit against the offending institution and received a settlement from them, you can still receive a redress payment too. The settlement amount will get subtracted from the amount of the redress payment.

However, the redress payment is the last compensation you will receive for the abuse. You will not be able to file any more claims after the redress payment is issued.

Also, the offending institution must have signed up with the National Redress Scheme to address the victims.

3) Out of Court Settlement Conference

The Out of Court Settlement Conference is an expedited legal process to help you settle your claim much faster than you would in court.

The benefit here is that you do not need to pay for a lawyer or risk losing the case in court. The downside is that the offending institution must agree to participate and settle with you.

If all goes well, you could have a quick settlement for a standard amount. It will not be a massive amount like you could get with a damage claim. But if the abuse was minor or not too severe, then an Out of Court Settlement might work out better for you.

4) Sentencing Act Application

Compensation does not just have to come from the offending institution. It can also come directly from the person who abused you.

Australia allows survivors to file a Sentencing Act Application after the offender has been tried and convicted of the crime.

The Sentencing Act gives victims the right to seek compensation from the offender once it has been proven in court that they criminally abused you. 

5) Victims of Crime Application

The Victims of Crime Application allows abuse survivors to seek financial assistance that is equal to the abuse they suffered.

What is great about this application is that the offender does not have to be convicted of the crime for you to receive assistance.

Just submit your application to the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, and they will categorize your case based on the level of violence you experienced.

6) Victims Support Services

Victims Support Services can assist you with the costs of your counselling services and medical bills.

You can receive up to $30,000 to pay for ongoing medical expenses, lost income, and housing. There are no court proceedings involved here. 

Just fill out the application form and attach proof of your monthly expenses and previous wages. Based on the information submitted, you will receive the necessary support services.

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