For victims of violent crimes, most Ontarians think the process begins and ends with the Criminal Justice System. However, Ontario law also provides for compensation up to $25,000, even if the perpetrator has no assets. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) has been around in various iterations since 1967, yet many Ontarians don’t know about the remedies it provides.
The CICB is open to any violent, criminal incident. Its cases range from domestic assaults to street violence, up to high-profile murder cases. The end result is “lump-sum” compensation to a maximum of $25,000 for pain and suffering, loss of income, treatment expenses, funeral expenses or other costs that result from being a victim of the crime; or smaller, ongoing payments for victims’ treatment needs. These awards can have a huge impact on the amount of treatment care victims are able to receive. Even better, the Tribunal is funded by the Government of Ontario, so success in receiving compensation rests on the strength of the claim, and not with the ability of the accused to pay.
There are three main parts to a successful CICB application: proof of injury, proof of loss, and proof of crime. It’s worth noting that the accused doesn’t have to have been convicted or even charged with a crime for you to bring a claim – the Board just must be satisfied that it is more likely than not that a crime occurred. Proving your injuries and losses suffered as a result make up the compensation you receive.
While a student at Western Law, I developed a self-help clinic to assist victims of domestic assault with bringing these claims on their own. For one-time incidents, victims may be able to make an application and attend the hearing without a lawyer or paralegal. As the crimes become more complex, lawyers, students and paralegals get involved to guide victims to the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, most of the people I encountered had suffered such severe trauma that bringing an application on their own would have been overwhelming. But that isn’t to say that it can’t be done; it’s just whether the victim is up to the challenge. Piecing together the crime and how it has impacted you is an emotionally draining task, but well worth the effort – whether it’s with an agent or on your own.
Finally, since the CICB is separate from our Superior Court, many people aren’t aware that, in addition to bringing a case for civil damages, they can also bring an application to the CICB. This CICB is a great resource to help victims recover while they await the lengthy litigation associated with a court battle. Victims can seek compensation through the CICB while the wheels of justice in the criminal system are turning. Since the Criminal Justice System doesn’t award any damages, the full amount of any CICB award granted is fully in the victim’s hands. However, if they later receive a settlement through a Superior Court decision, the amount of the CICB award will be deducted from the over-all Court settlement amount.
Annie Legate-Wolfe completed her law degree at Western University. She also an active volunteer in her community and lends her time and talents to support such initiatives as Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill.