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Damages and Compensation
 
 
     
 
Compensation from the offender

Other claims:
The offender is generally obligated to compensate the victim for damages and may also have to pay compensation for pain and suffering. A claim for damages means that the offender must restore the situation which would have existed had the crime not been committed. This can, for example, include the expenses to repair a damaged item, but also compensation for lost wages or the cost of hospital treatment. The victim may also be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, if the victim has suffered physical or psychological injury, loss of freedom or the right of sexual self-determination. If the victim and the offender are unable to agree on the amount of compensation for pain and suffering, the court will decide.

Foreign victims of crime can sue at German civil courts to obtain compensation for damages caused by a crime. A claim can also be brought through a so-called adhesive procedure (Adhäsionsverfahren) before the criminal court.

 

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
Victims Compensation Act

The Victims Compensation Act grants comprehensive benefits to the victim of an intentional, unlawful physical assault, if it results in damage to the victim’s health. The OEG also entitles victims who are injured in the lawful defence against such an attack or who are injured in the context of a crime directed against another person. The benefits for crimes commited in Germany are provided under the Federal Benefits Act (Bundersversorgungsgesetz – BVG) and they are very extensive.

Requirements for an claim under the OEG

  • The physical assault must have been committed on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany or on a German ship or aircraft.
  • there are special regulations for crimes committed abroad after 1 july 2009 which provide limited benefits
  • To receive benefits starting with the day of the injury, the application for benefits must be filed within one year after the crime.
  • If this deadline is missed, benefits will thereafter only be granted beginning with the month in which the application is filed.

The OEG generally requires that a criminal complaint is filed. This requirement can be waived in cases where this would be particularly burdensome for the victim. For more information, please refer to the info sheet for the OEG application.

Eligible beneficiaries:

In general, all injured parties are entitled to full benefits, regardless of their nationality or residence status.

Benefits under the OEG

The benefits are highly diverse and the requirements will be reviewed in detail by the public compensation office (Versorgungsamt) for each individual case. Depending on the injury, very different benefits may apply.

The following benefits may be available:

  • Curative medical treatment
  • Out-patient medical, dental and psychotherapeutic treatment
  • Provision of medication and dressings, and
  • Provision of medicaments and medical aids
  • Sick pay where a victim is unable to work due to the injury
  • Benefits based on welfare benefits for war victims
  • Assistance for job rehabilitation
  • Basic pension (Grundrente)
  • Supplement for person with very severe disabilities (Schwerstbeschädigtenzulage)
  • Additional care allowance (Pflegezulage)
  • Compensation for loss of earnings (Berufsschadensausgleich)
  • Compensatory pension (Ausgleichsrente)
  • Survivor benefits for widows and orphans (basic and compensatory pension)
  • Parental benefits
  • Funeral allowance

This list of benefits is incomplete and only intended to provide some examples.
The important point is that this law provides for many more comprehensive benefits than are available, e.g. through health insurers or pension insurance.

Please note:
If the intentional, unlawful and physical assault on the victim is somehow related to the victim’s exercise of its occupation, theemployer’s liability insurance association (Berufsgenossenschaft) is primarily responsible. At the same time, an application should be filed under the OEG, just in case. The OEG application must be filed at the local compensation office.

OEG introductory pages (in german):
http://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/PDF-Rundschreiben-SE/vorblatt-baf-oeg.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

OEG Application form (in german):
http://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/PDF-Rundschreiben-SE/antrag-baf-oeg.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
Ergänzendes Hilfesystem (supplementary support system)

The Supplementary Support System provides assistance to those subjected as children or teenagers to sexual violence in the home environment or in institutions.

What is the Supplementary Support System (EHS)?

The EHS is aimed at those who, as minors, experienced sexual abuse or sexualised violence in the family environment or in institutions, for example in facilities run by the Catholic or Protestant churches, and who are still suffering the consequences today. To this end, the Federal Government and some Federal States have set up a support fund. The decisive factor was a recommendation issued in 2010 by the “Round Table on Child Sexual Abuse” set up by the German government.

For applications in the institutional sector, it should be noted that these must be approved and funded directly by the responsible institutions. For this reason, institutional applications can only be processed when the relevant institution is engaged in the Supplementary Support System. The website of the Sexual Abuse Fund shows a current overview of the institutions involved with the EHS.

Victims can apply for non-cash benefits to the value of up to EUR 10,000. Benefits of this kind may be, for example, special therapies, medication and medical aids, service dogs, self-assertion courses as well as training and professional advancement or retraining.


The most important conditions for applications

  • The offence(s) occurred subsequent to 23 May, 1949 (foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany) resp. 7 October, 1949 (foundation of the German Democratic Republic) and prior to 30 June, 2013.
  • Victim was under 18 at the time of the offence
  • Scene of the crime is in Germany (German Federal Republic or territory of the former GDR)
  • Subordination to benefits from the state benefits scheme

For the victims, benefits from the fund are subordinate to the statutory benefits. This means that the supporting measures from the Sexual Abuse Fund can only be granted when the applicant has appealed to the statutory support system (such as health insurance scheme, accident insurance, benefits pursuant to the Compensation of Victims Act) for the desired assistance but has not received support commensurate with needs.

 
     
 
 
     
 
Verkehrsopferhilfe – Association for the support of victims of traffic accidents

The Verkehrsopferhilfe e.V. organisation is the association of motor liability insurers which assumes insurance cover in the event of hit and run incidents, acts of violence involving motor vehicles and accidents involving uninsured vehicles. The claims are not settled by the Verkehrsopferhilfe association as such but by one of the member companies. Payments are determined in accordance with the provisions of the German obligatory car insurance law.

 

Uninsured vehicles or accidents caused with intent

If the accident is caused by an uninsured vehicle or with intent, the perpetrator is known. But there is no compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance which would assume cover. The Verkehrsopferhilfe steps in to make up for this lack of motor vehicle insurance so that in cases of this kind the vehicular damage is also reimbursed.

Among other things, it provides compensation for loss of earnings, loss of livelihood, funeral expenses, damage to property, when major personal injury occurs as well as further costs.

In addition, since 10.06.2021, it can be availed of in addition to the Crime Victims Compensation Act as, since the amendment of the law, it is no longer excluded.

 

Hit and run

In order to prevent excessive or even improper claims against the fund, in cases of what is known as “hit and run”, damage to vehicles will only be reimbursed if, at the same time, major personal injury is involved.

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
Victims of extremist or terrorist attacks

Overview of service providers and information centres in the event of terrorist attacks and other major incidents

 

1. Federal Office of Justice

The German Bundestag provides financial assistance to victims of extremist or terrorist attacks in the form of hardship fund payments and assistance benefits.

 

Hardship payments for victims of terrorist crimes

The support is available in the event of incidents within the country but can also be availed of by German citizens who have been the victim of terrorist attacks abroad. The means by which the act was perpetrated is not relevant. The hardship payment is a voluntary benefit granted by the state to which no legal entitlement applies. It involves a one-off capital payment. It is to be regarded as an act of solidarity on the part of the state and its citizens.

The hardship payment is granted for physical and health-related injuries as a one-off capital payment. Loss of livelihood and hindrance to professional advancement can be taken into account in determining the level of the hardship payment. No hardship payment can be granted for damage to property (e.g. a mobile phone damaged in a terrorist attack, damaged window panes).

 

Hardship payments for victims of extremist attacks

This hardship payment is also a voluntary benefit granted by the state to which no legal entitlement applies. It involves a one-off capital payment. It too is to be regarded as an act of solidarity on the part of the state and its citizens. At the same time, it is intended to give a clear signal of the condemnation of attacks of this kind. The hardship payment is granted for physical and health-related injuries and for invasion of general personal privacy (e.g. severe verbal abuse and threats) as a one-off payment. Loss of livelihood and hindrance of professional advancement can be taken into account in determining the level of the hardship payment. No hardship payment can be granted for damage to property (e.g. a mobile phone damaged in a terrorist attack, damaged window panes).

 

Support payments for economic victims of terrorist and extremist attacks

On 01.08.2020, a new form of assistance was passed in the federal budget permitting the payment of support in individual cases to self-employed persons, small companies and, in specific cases, other facilities. The prerequisite for the granting of these payments is that the business premises has been the site of an act of terrorism or extremism leading, or potentially leading, to loss of life, and it is equitable for the Federal Republic of Germany to grant such a payment. The support payment is intended to help bridge acute liquidity squeezes relating to ongoing costs or costs arising from the event, such as rent or renovation costs. The guidelines apply retroactively as of 01.08.2018.

 

Application

The application for the granting of hardship fund payments or support payments is to be directed to the Federal Ministry of Justice. Application forms and information sheets can be found here.

In general, no preclusion periods, limitation periods or similar apply within which a hardship payment must be made following the application. In addition to those immediately affected and the surviving dependents of victims who have died (parents, children, spouses or life partners as well as siblings) emergency helpers can also submit similar applications (an exception to this rule is persons who sustained injuries in the context of public sector duties or duties under labour law in the combating of terrorist crimes (e.g. police). These may not receive a hardship payment.

 

The staff of WEISSER RING also help those affected in completing their applications. If you have questions relating to the application, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the contact partners for hardship fund payments for victims of terrorist crimes:

 

Bundesamt für Justiz

Härteleistungen

53094 Bonn

 

Telephone: +49 228 99 410 – 5288

Telefax: +49 228 410 -5050

E-mail: opferhilfe@bfj.bund.de

 

2. Compensation of Victims Act

Victims of major incidents can also assert claims for compensation pursuant to the Compensation of Victims Act or apply for benefits from the Traffic Accident Victims Support scheme.

 

3. Statutory Accident Insurance

In the context of acts of violence at, or in relation to the workplace, the Statutory Accident Insurance is generally responsible. It safeguards compensation for crimes at the workplace (e.g. a bank robbery) and for crimes on the way to or from work (what are known as commuting accidents). These constitute what are known as “occupational accidents” within the meaning of the Social Code Book VII. The employer reports the “occupational accident” to his Mutual Indemnity Association (BG); you can also report the incident yourself. A necessary factor here, however, is what is known as “workplace-related". This is not the case, for example, then the person concerned is attacked at his place of work and the event has no internal context. For instance if the person concerned is tracked to his place of work by the husband of the woman with whom he is having an affair, and knocked to the ground there (for purely personal reasons). However, if a taxi driver is attacked during his shift by a stranger with a knife and injured in an attempt to steal the day’s takings, the event is directly related to his work. “Workplace-relatedness" would apply in this second case. Victims receive, for example, medical treatment, therapeutic care from the accident insurance consultant, rehabilitation and a pension. Further benefits from the statutory accident insurance scheme are, for example injury benefits (higher than the sickness benefits paid by the health insurance scheme), a pension for injured parties when the reduction of capacity to work – longer than 26 weeks – amounts to at least 20 % and pension payments for dependent survivors.

 

4. Community Accident Insurance

The Community Accident Insurance scheme is also an element of statutory accident insurance. The emergency helper (someone who provides assistance following an attack) enjoys the protection of the Community Accident Insurance scheme. Therefore, in individual cases, he receives treatment and rehabilitation, injury benefits and pension payments from the statutory accident insurance. In addition, (unlike the arrangements of the Compensation of Victims Act) he can receive compensation for damage to property, e.g. damage to a motor vehicle if the perpetrator has demolished it. The relevant forms can be found on the internet under www.dguv.de

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
Other compensation options

Foundations at the state level (Landesstiftungen)

The OEG does not provide compensation for damage of property or financial losses. However, some states (e.g. Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony) have state foundations which may provide financial assistance even for property damage or compensation for pain and suffering.
WEISSER RING can tell you whether your state has such a foundation.

Victims of extremist or terrorist attacks:

The German parliament has set aside funds to compensate victims of extremist attacks. These funds are to offer support; however, there is no legal entitlement to such benefits, as these benefits are provided by the government on a voluntary basis. Extremist attacks are in particular attacks with an extremist right-wing, left-wing, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, or Islamist motivation resulting in bodily injury, but they also include massive threats or violation of personal honour.

Surviving dependents or private individuals suffering damage to their health while defending third persons against extremist attacks may also apply for compensation payments. The application form is available here or at www.bundesjustizamt.de and can be submitted to the Federal Office of Justice (Bundesamt für Justiz).

Victims of terrorist acts may receive hardship benefits as well. Further information is available at www.bundesjustizamt.de. The application form can be found here.

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
Rights of victims who do not live in Germany

Rights during the criminal proceedings:
The victim protection provisions of the German Code of Criminal Procedure also apply for victims of crimes committed in Germany who are not German citizens.

Entitlements to state compensation:
In general, all injured parties are entitled to full benefits, regardless of their nationality or residence status.