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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:

The following persons are entitled to full benefits:

  • German citizens
  • EU citizens
  • Foreigners who have lawfully resided in Germany for at least 3 years
  • Foreigners whose home country provides similar benefits to German residents.

Citizens of other countries who don’t meet these requirements may be entitled to limited benefits under certain conditions.

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

 

 
     
 
 
     
 
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:
Citizens of EU countries are entitled to full compensation under the Victims Compensation Act. The same applies in cases where this is specified by intergovernmental treaties. Non-EU citizens are entitled if they have been residing in Germany for an uninterrupted period of at least three years. In other cases, victims are only entitled to limited benefits. Other foreigners may be entitled to compensation if they are related to a German citizen or to a foreigner who has been residing in Germany for at least three years. Since the legal situation can be very complicated depending on the circumstances of an individual case, you should contact a victim support organisation or your public compensation office further information.

 
     
 
 
     
 
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.