Personal Injury Victims and Their Rights
The Canadian Victims Bill or Rights provides the following rights to victims of crime:
*Right to information
*Right to protection
*Right to participation
*Right to seek restitution
Let us discuss these rights one by one.
Right to Information
Victims should be able to receive information about the justice system as well as the services and programs available to them. They may also obtain specific information on the progress of their case including information on the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of the person who brought harm to them.
Courts will need to ask the Crown if reasonable steps were taken to let the victim know of a plea agreement for serious personal injury offences or murder, or on request by the victim for certain offences that carry a potential sentence of imprisonment of five years or more.
What information can they have access to?
*The justice system and the role of victims;
*Available victim programs and services;
*Their right to make a complaint if, in their opinion, their rights were not respected.
Right to Protection
Victims have the right to have their privacy and security considered at all stages of the justice process, and to have reasonable and necessary protection from any intimidation and retaliation. Victims also have the right to ask for a testimonial aid at court appearances. Courts now consider several factors, including the protection and security of witnesses, when deciding whether to allow victims to give their testimony behind a screen, by closed-circuit television, or with a support person close by. If requested for minor victims (under 18 years of age), publication bans are mandatory.
Right to Participation
Victims have the right to present impact statements and have them considered in court. Victims also have the right to express their own views about decisions that affect their rights. Victims can also provide a standard form for victim and community impact statements to be able to ensure consistency in how victims describe to the court the impact the offence or crime had on them – including any physical or emotional harm, financial loss or property damage.
The standard form for victim impact statements can also be used by a Review Board when making a decision about an accused person found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.
Right to Seek Restitution
Victims also have the right to have the court consider making a restitution order, and having an unpaid restitution order enforced through a civil court. A judge can order restitution for financial losses including:
*Damaged or lost property;
*Physical injury or psychological harm;
*Costs for temporary food, housing, childcare and transportation.
If you have more questions about the rights of a personal injury victim, please call us at 1.855.905.9222 for more information.