Compensation from the offender
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 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.
In general, all injured parties are entitled to full benefits, regardless of their nationality or residence status.
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:
This list of benefits is incomplete and only intended to provide some examples.
Ergänzendes Hilfesystem (supplementary support system)
The Supplementary Support System provides assistance to those subjected as children or teenagers to sexual violence in the home environment or in institutions.
What is the Supplementary Support System (EHS)?
The EHS is aimed at those who, as minors, experienced sexual abuse or sexualised violence in the family environment or in institutions, for example in facilities run by the Catholic or Protestant churches, and who are still suffering the consequences today. To this end, the Federal Government and some Federal States have set up a support fund. The decisive factor was a recommendation issued in 2010 by the “Round Table on Child Sexual Abuse” set up by the German government.
For applications in the institutional sector, it should be noted that these must be approved and funded directly by the responsible institutions. For this reason, institutional applications can only be processed when the relevant institution is engaged in the Supplementary Support System. The website of the Sexual Abuse Fund shows a current overview of the institutions involved with the EHS.
Victims can apply for non-cash benefits to the value of up to EUR 10,000. Benefits of this kind may be, for example, special therapies, medication and medical aids, service dogs, self-assertion courses as well as training and professional advancement or retraining.
For the victims, benefits from the fund are subordinate to the statutory benefits. This means that the supporting measures from the Sexual Abuse Fund can only be granted when the applicant has appealed to the statutory support system (such as health insurance scheme, accident insurance, benefits pursuant to the Compensation of Victims Act) for the desired assistance but has not received support commensurate with needs.
Verkehrsopferhilfe – Association for the support of victims of traffic accidents
The Verkehrsopferhilfe e.V. organisation is the association of motor liability insurers which assumes insurance cover in the event of hit and run incidents, acts of violence involving motor vehicles and accidents involving uninsured vehicles. The claims are not settled by the Verkehrsopferhilfe association as such but by one of the member companies. Payments are determined in accordance with the provisions of the German obligatory car insurance law.
Uninsured vehicles or accidents caused with intent
If the accident is caused by an uninsured vehicle or with intent, the perpetrator is known. But there is no compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance which would assume cover. The Verkehrsopferhilfe steps in to make up for this lack of motor vehicle insurance so that in cases of this kind the vehicular damage is also reimbursed.
Among other things, it provides compensation for loss of earnings, loss of livelihood, funeral expenses, damage to property, when major personal injury occurs as well as further costs.
In addition, since 10.06.2021, it can be availed of in addition to the Crime Victims Compensation Act as, since the amendment of the law, it is no longer excluded.
Hit and run
In order to prevent excessive or even improper claims against the fund, in cases of what is known as “hit and run”, damage to vehicles will only be reimbursed if, at the same time, major personal injury is involved.
Victims of extremist or terrorist attacks
Overview of service providers and information centres in the event of terrorist attacks and other major incidents
1. Federal Office of Justice
The German Bundestag provides financial assistance to victims of extremist or terrorist attacks in the form of hardship fund payments and assistance benefits.
Hardship payments for victims of terrorist crimes
The support is available in the event of incidents within the country but can also be availed of by German citizens who have been the victim of terrorist attacks abroad. The means by which the act was perpetrated is not relevant. The hardship payment is a voluntary benefit granted by the state to which no legal entitlement applies. It involves a one-off capital payment. It is to be regarded as an act of solidarity on the part of the state and its citizens.
The hardship payment is granted for physical and health-related injuries as a one-off capital payment. Loss of livelihood and hindrance to professional advancement can be taken into account in determining the level of the hardship payment. No hardship payment can be granted for damage to property (e.g. a mobile phone damaged in a terrorist attack, damaged window panes).
Hardship payments for victims of extremist attacks
This hardship payment is also a voluntary benefit granted by the state to which no legal entitlement applies. It involves a one-off capital payment. It too is to be regarded as an act of solidarity on the part of the state and its citizens. At the same time, it is intended to give a clear signal of the condemnation of attacks of this kind. The hardship payment is granted for physical and health-related injuries and for invasion of general personal privacy (e.g. severe verbal abuse and threats) as a one-off payment. Loss of livelihood and hindrance of professional advancement can be taken into account in determining the level of the hardship payment. No hardship payment can be granted for damage to property (e.g. a mobile phone damaged in a terrorist attack, damaged window panes).
Support payments for economic victims of terrorist and extremist attacks
On 01.08.2020, a new form of assistance was passed in the federal budget permitting the payment of support in individual cases to self-employed persons, small companies and, in specific cases, other facilities. The prerequisite for the granting of these payments is that the business premises has been the site of an act of terrorism or extremism leading, or potentially leading, to loss of life, and it is equitable for the Federal Republic of Germany to grant such a payment. The support payment is intended to help bridge acute liquidity squeezes relating to ongoing costs or costs arising from the event, such as rent or renovation costs. The guidelines apply retroactively as of 01.08.2018.
The application for the granting of hardship fund payments or support payments is to be directed to the Federal Ministry of Justice. Application forms and information sheets can be found here.
In general, no preclusion periods, limitation periods or similar apply within which a hardship payment must be made following the application. In addition to those immediately affected and the surviving dependents of victims who have died (parents, children, spouses or life partners as well as siblings) emergency helpers can also submit similar applications (an exception to this rule is persons who sustained injuries in the context of public sector duties or duties under labour law in the combating of terrorist crimes (e.g. police). These may not receive a hardship payment.
The staff of WEISSER RING also help those affected in completing their applications. If you have questions relating to the application, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the contact partners for hardship fund payments for victims of terrorist crimes:
Bundesamt für Justiz
Telephone: +49 228 99 410 – 5288
Telefax: +49 228 410 -5050
2. Compensation of Victims Act
Victims of major incidents can also assert claims for compensation pursuant to the Compensation of Victims Act or apply for benefits from the Traffic Accident Victims Support scheme.
3. Statutory Accident Insurance
In the context of acts of violence at, or in relation to the workplace, the Statutory Accident Insurance is generally responsible. It safeguards compensation for crimes at the workplace (e.g. a bank robbery) and for crimes on the way to or from work (what are known as commuting accidents). These constitute what are known as “occupational accidents” within the meaning of the Social Code Book VII. The employer reports the “occupational accident” to his Mutual Indemnity Association (BG); you can also report the incident yourself. A necessary factor here, however, is what is known as “workplace-related". This is not the case, for example, then the person concerned is attacked at his place of work and the event has no internal context. For instance if the person concerned is tracked to his place of work by the husband of the woman with whom he is having an affair, and knocked to the ground there (for purely personal reasons). However, if a taxi driver is attacked during his shift by a stranger with a knife and injured in an attempt to steal the day’s takings, the event is directly related to his work. “Workplace-relatedness" would apply in this second case. Victims receive, for example, medical treatment, therapeutic care from the accident insurance consultant, rehabilitation and a pension. Further benefits from the statutory accident insurance scheme are, for example injury benefits (higher than the sickness benefits paid by the health insurance scheme), a pension for injured parties when the reduction of capacity to work – longer than 26 weeks – amounts to at least 20 % and pension payments for dependent survivors.
4. Community Accident Insurance
The Community Accident Insurance scheme is also an element of statutory accident insurance. The emergency helper (someone who provides assistance following an attack) enjoys the protection of the Community Accident Insurance scheme. Therefore, in individual cases, he receives treatment and rehabilitation, injury benefits and pension payments from the statutory accident insurance. In addition, (unlike the arrangements of the Compensation of Victims Act) he can receive compensation for damage to property, e.g. damage to a motor vehicle if the perpetrator has demolished it. The relevant forms can be found on the internet under www.dguv.de
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.
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.
Rights of victims who do not live in Germany
Rights during the criminal proceedings:
Entitlements to state compensation: