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PUB ASSAULTS - CAN VICTIMS BE COMPENSATED?


28/12/2011



It’s not uncommon to hear of “glassings” and similar violent acts in pubs and clubs. The past few weeks have seen their fair share of violent assaults as we navigate the Christmas holiday period.

We have been saturated with media reports about how to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence, including pub lock-outs, restricted trading hours, staggered closing times, fewer liquor outlets, and the proposed “Three Strikes” Bill to shut down venues that have been convicted of three serious offences, like serving booze to someone already drunk.

But alcohol-fuelled violence remains a real problem in Australia.

So what happens if you’re the victim of this type of assault? Are there avenues for compensation?

It depends.

If you are the victim of an act of violence in NSW you may be able to claim Victims Compensation, which includes financial compensation and/or counselling. To be eligible you must either have been injured as a result of an act of violence, or while trying to prevent violence or defend someone who is under threat. You may also be able to claim if you have witnessed violence, or are directly related to the victim.

The most common act of violence in a pub setting is assault with or without a weapon, although others include sexual assault, indecent assault, and domestic violence.

While there is a government pool of money to compensate victims of crime, there are restrictions on who can claim. The Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act lists different types of injuries and allocates an amount of compensation to each. The minimum amount that can be awarded is $7,500. So if your injury, or combined injuries, is less, you don’t qualify.

The maximum amount you can receive is $50,000. For the person who becomes a paraplegic, this amount is seemingly ridiculous considering the lifetime of care needed.

The other avenue for compensation is to sue the pub where the assault occurred, which could get you more money. This involves proving that the pub was negligent, which isn’t always easy.

In a High Court decision in late 2009, two men, who were shot during a New Years Eve function, sued the restaurant for not providing enough security. They lost the case, with the court ruling that the passionate gunman would potentially have gained access to the venue with or without extra security staff.

In any event, if you are injured in an act of violence, report it to the police immediately to assist the evidence-gathering process. And seek legal advice so you don’t miss the time limit. For Victims Compensation claims the time limit is 2 years. If you are suing for negligence, the limitation period is 3 years.



Do you know of an assault at a Pub or Club?  Use our comment form below to share your opinion or  experiences.

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