How to Claim Compensation Following a Sexual Assault

Three women in a supportive embrace looking away.

Sexual assault has devastating impacts on an individual, which, in many cases, can be compensated.

While we understand that compensation is not going to fix what has happened, it can help support you in the future. Medical and psychological treatment can be claimed, along with lost income and compensation for pain and suffering.

Who can I make a claim against?

Personal injury claims for sexual assault can be made against the perpetrator and/or the organisation/s. 

You can sue the person who committed the criminal offence. In some cases, there will already have been criminal proceedings against this person.

In some circumstances, you can also sue an organisation who was responsible for the individual who committed the offence. For example, there was a recent case in Canberra where a woman was sexually assaulted in hospital by another patient. She successfully sued the hospital. In another case in Canberra, a university student was sexually assaulted by a fellow student, and she succeeded in her claim against the university.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you were under 18 when the sexual abuse occurred, there is no time limit to make a claim in the ACT or NSW.

If a sexual assault happened after 18 years of age, you generally have 3 years to make a claim in the ACT and NSW.

We understand it is difficult to contact someone and speak about such sensitive issues. However, it can be very important to contact a lawyer as soon as you are able to, so you don’t risk losing your right to compensation. We deal with these cases with the upmost sensitivity and discretion.

What compensation can I claim?

The compensation you receive is different for each individual case, but the most claimed items include:

  1. Compensation payments in recognition of your pain and suffering;
  2. Treatment costs for the past and future (including doctor appointments, psychologist appointments, psychiatrist appointments and medications); and
  3. Loss of income or earnings (including superannuation) for the past and future.

Aggravated or exemplary damages, which are designed to deter and to punish the abuser, are sometimes claimed as well.

Do I need to have reported the assault to the police?

You can make a personal injury claim against an individual or organization even if criminal charges haven’t been laid or haven’t been successful. This is because the degree to which you will need to prove your case, ‘the standard of proof’, is lower for personal injury claims and other civil proceedings than for criminal proceedings.

If there have already been criminal proceedings against the individual or organization, this can provide useful information for your personal injury claim.

How can Elringtons help me?

We have experience working with people who have been assaulted and we understand how difficult it can be for someone to talk and share information about their experience.

Gabby Bridger is our solicitor who works with survivors of sexual assault, along with other clients who have psychological injuries. Gabby is empathetic and understanding. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, which has given her a deeper understanding of trauma and psychological injuries. She works closely with Tom Maling, a former Registered Nurse who has worked in mental health settings and continues to represent clients who have suffer psychological injuries.

We are available for an obligation-free and confidential discussion with you, or a family member or friend, to discuss options and how we can help you.

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