Which type of crime can I get compensation for?
In accordance with the Victim Compensation Act (Opferentschädigungsgesetz – OEG), compensation is paid to victims of intentional unlawful attacks and their surviving relatives.
Which type of injury can I get compensation for?
In accordance with the OEG, the amount of compensation granted depends on the extent of the damage caused to health and the economic and health-related consequences thereof. However, the damage to health must be long-term in nature (i.e. must last for longer than six months). Compensation is generally paid on a monthly basis as long as all conditions are met.
Can I get compensation if I’m a relative or dependant of a victim who has died as a result of a crime? Which relatives or dependants can get compensation?
Compensation is also paid to the surviving relatives of a victim. Surviving relatives are the victim’s spouse and children and, in exceptional cases, his/her parents.
Can I get compensation if I’m a relative or dependant of a victim who has survived? Which relatives or dependants can get compensation in this case?
The relatives of a victim who has survived may, under certain circumstances, obtain medical treatment and maintenance payments.
Can I get compensation if I’m not a national of an EU country?
Under the OEG, the amount of compensation that foreign citizens may receive depends on their residency status. Citizens of EU Member States and foreign citizens who have been legally resident in Germany for at least three years will receive the same benefits as German citizens. The amount of compensation available to other foreign citizens is lower.
Can I claim compensation from this country if I live here or am from here (this is the country of my residence or nationality) even if the crime was committed in another EU country? Could I do this instead of claiming compensation in the country where the crime took place? If so under what conditions?
According to Section 3a of the OEG, victims of a violent crime committed abroad may also be granted compensation. However, this is in the form of a one-off payment, and not a regular benefit. Furthermore, this payment is subsidiary to payments from other bodies.
Do I have to have reported the crime to the police first to be able to claim compensation?
According to the OEG, applicants have a duty to cooperate, as do applicants for social benefits. First and foremost, this means providing an account of all the circumstances which could help clarify the facts of the case. This generally means that the offender must be reported to the police.
Do I have to await the outcome of any police investigations or criminal proceedings before I can claim?
No, the competent authorities generally decide independently on claims made under the OEG. However, in some cases it may be necessary to await the outcome of police investigations or criminal proceedings.
Do I have to first seek compensation from the offender – if they have been identified?
No, compensation is paid under the OEG regardless of whether the offender has been identified.
If the offender has not been identified or convicted, can I still qualify for compensation? If so, what evidence do I need to present to support my claim?
Yes, compensation is available regardless of whether the offender has been identified or convicted. To support your claim, you should present all documents that could help clarify the facts of the case and determine the extent of damage caused.
Is there a time limit within which I have to claim compensation?
No, the is no time limit according to the OEG. However, compensation payments can only be made retroactively for a period of one year prior to the claim being made.
Which losses and expenses are covered by the compensation?
The compensation covers, for example:
a) for the victim of an offence:
- material (non-psychological) damage:
- medical costs of injury (ambulant and hospital treatment, rehabilitation)
- additional needs or costs arising from injury (e.g. care and assistance, temporary and permanent treatment, prolonged physiotherapy, adaptation of housing, special aids, etc.)
- permanent injury (e.g. invalidity or other permanent handicaps)
- loss of earnings during medical treatment (including lost earnings and loss of ability to earn or diminished maintenance, etc.)
- loss of opportunity
- expenses linked to legal proceedings related to the incident causing the damage, e.g. legal fees and court costs)
- compensation for stolen or damaged personal property
- psychological (moral) damage:
- pain and suffering of the victim
b) for entitled people or relatives of a victim:
- material (non-psychological) damage:
- funeral costs
- medical costs (e.g. therapy for a family member, ambulant and hospital treatment, rehabilitation)
- loss of maintenance or of opportunity
- psychological damage:
- pain and suffering of relatives or entitled people/compensation to survivors if the victim died
Victim compensation includes monthly pensions to compensate for the economic and health-related consequences of the damage to the victim’s health, medical treatment and care benefits. Compensation for pain and suffering (Schmerzensgeld) is not paid.
Compensation for survivors includes monthly pensions for widows/widowers, orphans and, where applicable, parents, medical treatment and care benefits.
Is the compensation paid out in a single payment or monthly instalments?
Pension payments to victims and surviving relatives to compensate for the economic and health-related consequences of damage to health are paid on a monthly basis as long as all the requisite conditions are met. Other benefits are paid if and when there is a need for them.
In what way could my own behaviour in relation to the crime, my criminal record or failure to cooperate during the compensation proceedings affect my chance of receiving compensation, and/or the amount I receive?
If the injured party caused the injury himself/herself or if it would be unfair to pay compensation for other reasons, particularly because of the victim’s own behaviour, then compensation will be denied. However, the mere existence of a criminal record is not enough to warrant such a decision. Claimants have an obligation to help as much as possible to clarify the facts of the case. If they do not fulfil this obligation, compensation may be denied, either in full or partially.
In what way could my financial situation affect my chance of receiving compensation and/or the amount?
According to the OEG, compensation is paid regardless of the injured party’s income or wealth. The financial situation of the injured party may only have an impact on the amount of compensation granted in order to compensate for economic damage, or in the case of care benefits.
Are there any other criteria that could affect my chance of receiving compensation and/or the amount?
No, under the OEG, only the outlined criteria can affect the likelihood of receiving compensation and/or the amount.
How will the compensation be calculated?
Pension payments to compensate for the consequences of health-related damage are calculated according to the extent of these consequences. Pension payments to compensate for the consequences of economic damage are based on the economic disadvantages incurred.
Is there a minimum/maximum amount that can be awarded?
Am I expected to quote the amount in the claim form? If so, do I get any instructions on how to calculate it or on other aspects?
No (see response to previous question).
Will any compensation I receive for my loss from other sources (such as my employer’s or a private insurance scheme) be deducted from compensation paid by the authority/body?
Pension payments to compensate for the consequences of health-related damage are made regardless of whether you receive payments from other private or public bodies. However, these payments may be taken into account when calculating payments to compensate for the consequences of economic damage.
Can I get an advance on the compensation? If so under what conditions?
Advance payments are not possible under the OEG. Payments to cover medical treatment may, however, be made before a decision has been taken on the compensation claim.
Can I get complementary or additional compensation (following a change in circumstances or worsening health, etc.) after the main decision?
In the case of worsening health, an ‘aggravation claim’ (Verschlimmerungsantrag) can always be made in order to request the recalculation of the compensation amount. Changes in income can always be taken into account in the calculation of compensation for the consequences of economic damage.
What supporting documents do I need to include with my claim?You should include all documents which will help to clarify the facts of the case and determine the damage caused.
Are there administrative or other charges to be paid when the claim is received and processed?
Which authority decides on compensation claims (in national cases)?
The authorities that are competent according to the law of each Land.
Where do I send the claim (in national cases)?
The claim can be sent to all social security offices. It will then be forwarded to the competent authority.
Do I need to be present during the procedure and/or when my claim is being decided?
How long does it take (approximately) to receive a decision on a claim for compensation from the authority?
There is no definitive answer to this question. The duration of the procedure depends, in particular, on how easy or difficult it is to clarify the facts of the case and whether it is necessary to obtain medical reports.
If I’m not satisfied with the authority’s decision, how can I challenge it?
An appeal may be lodged against the decision. If the competent authority does not come to another decision as a result of the appeal procedure, a complaint may be filed with the Social Court (Sozialgericht).
Where can I get the necessary forms and other information on how to claim?
This information can be found in various places, as both the Federal Government and the Länder provide it in the relevant places. See, for example, the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Soziale-Sicherung/Soziale-Entschaedigung/Opferentschaedigungsrecht/oeg.html or the online database for victims of crime: https://www.odabs.org/
Is there a special helpline or website I can use?
There are a number of Federal Government and Länder websites where information on victim compensation can be found, e.g. on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Soziale-Sicherung/Soziale-Entschaedigung/Opferentschaedigungsrecht/oeg.html or https://www.odabs.org/ .
Can I get legal aid (help from a lawyer) when preparing the claim?
Legal expenses are not regarded as compensation and therefore cannot be refunded under the OEG.
Are there any victim support organisations that can help me claim compensation?
Yes, there are a number of regional and national victim support organisations. The biggest nationwide organisation is ‘der Weisse Ring’.
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Last update: 11/12/2018