The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic will discuss some remedies available to victims of crime under Alberta’s Victim of Crime Act.
The Act states that victims of criminal acts are entitled to be treated with courtesy and compassion. They are entitled to dignity and privacy. Victims should suffer minimal inconvenience for their involvement in the criminal justice system. Victims should promptly receive financial benefit for the injuries that they suffer as a result of a violent crime committed in Alberta. They are entitled to information regarding their involvement in the criminal proceedings; the scheduling, the progress of the case and the final decision. The victim’s views and concerns should be heard and considered. The victims’ and their families’ safety must be protected from intimidation and retaliation.
If you are a victim of a violent crime that occurred in Alberta, you may be eligible for a financial benefit. You must have suffered an emotional or physical injury. You must also have reported the crime to the police and cooperated with the investigation. The financial assistance is a 1-time payment based on the severity of injury suffered. There is no compensation paid for property damage, medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of wages, or pain and suffering. You must bring a civil action against the offender for recovery of these types of losses. You should consult with a lawyer if you wish to sue the offender.
An application for financial benefits through the “Victims of Crime Fund” must be made within 2 years of the date of the incident. You do not have to wait for a conviction or charges against the accused to be laid. The time may be extended if you are hospitalized for a serious brain injury or if a parent or guardian neglected to apply on a child’s behalf. Where the victim dies because of the injuries, a surviving family member or any other person acting for the deceased may apply for the death benefit. A common law spouse of a deceased victim may claim financial benefits if the victim is of the opposite sex and they have lived together at least 5 years before the victim’s death. If there is a child of the common-law relationship, the spouse must have lived with the victim at least 2 years before the death of the victim to make a claim.
To obtain an application form, check with your local police station victim services. You may have to provide additional information on how the injuries occurred and a description of the injuries suffered. The application may be dismissed if the information is not forthcoming. The process takes approximately 4months as a general rule, but it depends upon the application and could take longer.
Persons convicted of a criminal offence are not eligible for benefits. Victims of a motor vehicle accident caused by impaired driving or property damage caused by break and enter crimes are also not eligible. If you are the victim of a motor vehicle crime, you may call Motor Vehicles Accident Claims at 780-427-8255 or 310-0000 and the number, toll-free.
A person may apply to the Review Board for a review of the decision no later than 30 days after the decision is received. The Review Board may conduct its own investigation of the alleged injuries and rescind, confirm or vary the decision. The Review Board may also consider new evidence. An appeal may be made of the decision of the Review Board at the Court of Appeal. You should consult with a lawyer if you want to have the Review Boards decision reviewed.