Damages and compensation

The claim to compensation for damage or loss incurred due to a crime is a civil-law claim. Victims may also enforce their claim to compensation in the criminal proceedings if they join the proceedings as a private party.
In this case, the extent of the damage or loss will be determined ex officio, based on the outcome of the criminal proceedings or on further simple investigations, if possible.

Victims having sustained bodily injury or harm are entitled to compensation by the state under the Act on Crime Victims (Verbrechensopfergesetz).

Compensation from the offender

Victims may assert claims for damage or loss incurred in the criminal proceedings by joining the proceedings as a private party. This is done in the form of a declaration in which the victim should briefly justify why he/she is entitled to participate in the proceedings, unless the reasons are obvious. Notice must be given to the criminal police or the public prosecutor, or once charges have been brought, to the court. Such notice can be given until the close of evidence-taking.
It may be revoked at any time.

The court must determine the extent of damage, loss or impairment, to the extent possible based on the outcome of the criminal proceedings or on further simple investigations.

In its verdict, the court will (partially or fully) award the damages claimed or refer the claimant to the civil courts, depending on the outcome of the criminal proceedings. In that case, claims for damages must be enforced through civil action.

Act on Crime Victims (Verbrechensopfergesetz, VOG)

The Act on Crime Victims provides for a number of benefits.

Benefits for victims:

  • Compensation for loss of earnings
  • Additional earnings-linkedbenefit
  • Therapeutic care (e.g. costs of psychotherapy)
  • Orthopaediccare
  • Replacement of damaged aids (e.g. glasses or dental prostheses)
  • Vocational, social and medical rehabilitation
  • Nursing or blindness allowance
  • Crisis intervention (asof 01/04/2013)
  • Victims having sustained severe bodily injury in a crime committed after 31/05/2009 are entitled to a lump sum payment for pain and suffering in the amount of EUR 1,000. If a crime victim sustained bodily injuries with severe lasting sequels, he/she is entitled to a lump sum compensation of EUR5,000. As of 01/04/2013 the lump sum amounts were raised in staggered categories: EUR 2,000 for severe bodily injury; EUR 4,000 for severe bodily injury, health impairment leading to occupational disability of more than three months; EUR 8,000 for bodily injury with severe lasting sequels; and EUR 12,000 for bodily injuries with severe lasting sequels and a nursing need in the extent of least level 5.
Benefits for victims
  • Compensation for loss of support payments
  • Additional earnings-linkedbenefit
  • Therapeutic care (e.g. psychotherapy costs) and orthopaedic care
  • Reimbursement off uneral costs.

To obtain these benefits, you must file an application with the competent local branch of the Federal Office of Social Welfare (Bundessozialamt). Benefits may be claimed starting from the time of the criminal offence. The offender need not be convicted or known on the date of application. A confirmation of the complaint made to the police will suffice. The Federal Office of Social Welfare (not a court) then decides in administrative proceedings by way of administrative notice (“Bescheid”) which may be appealed within 14 days.

Who iseligible

  • Personsholding Austrian citizenship, or
  • EU citizens, or
  • Persons staying lawfully in Austria, provided that the criminal offence was committed in Austria after 30 June 2005, or
  • Victims of human trafficking staying unlawfully in Austria when the criminal offence was committed, provided that they are granted a right of residence as specially protected persons afterwards or enjoy a right of residence thereafter (valid from 1 April 2013);
  • Victims of an unlawful and wilful act (criminal offence) that is punishable by more than 6 months of imprisonment who have sustained bodily injury or harm, or
  • Persons who have lost a relative, or have paid for funeral costs.

There are deadlines for filing applications for benefits. Applications for recurrent amounts (e.g. loss of support payments) must be filed within 6 months after the criminal act was committed.
Applications for other payments must be filed within 2 years. There is no deadline for applying for psychotherapy costs or lump sum compensations.

sozialentschaedigung_vog_beschaedigte_antrag_bundesweit.pdf sozialentschaedigung_vog_hinterbliebene_antrag_bundesweit.pdf sozialentschaedigung_vog_psychotherapie_antrag_bundesweit.pdf sozialentschaedigung_vog_schmerzengeld_antrag_bundesweit.pdf
Return of property after confiscation or seizure

Property belonging to a victim which was confiscated or seized in criminal proceedings must be returned by way of court order to the victim as soon as the verdict becomes final, provided that the court is convinced that the object is really owned by the victim. 
Before that date, property may be returned at the victim’s request (motion for surrender) after the accused and any other involved persons have been heard, provided that

  • the property is not or no longer needed for evidentiary reasons; and
  • neither the accused nor any other person assert concrete facts from which a title to the property may be inferred which would stand in the way of returning it to the applicant (e.g. a plausible statement of ownership by another person), and that no other circumstances would cast doubt on the applicant’s title.

In that case, the confiscation will be lifted and the object will be deposited at the first-instance court having jurisdiction for the seat of the court, where proceedings on the title to the property will be conducted.

A motion for surrender must be filed with the public prosecutor during the investigative proceedings, and with the court during the trial.