Incarceration is not a legal disability and normal timeframes will apply to incarcerated people.
Awards of monetary compensation for a civil claim or compensation for a claim under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) made against the state and its employees or contractors will be placed into a victim trust fund (s 319N Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) (Corrective Services Act)) for people in prison or on a probation, parole or community-based order (e.g. a fine option order). This applies to money awarded either during the period of incarceration or arising from matters that took place during this period. A person’s debtors, including the State Penalties Enforcement Registry, will be able to claim from this fund as well as eligible victims.
Working prisoners are not entitled to workers’ compensation. Any prisoner who is injured whilst participating in an approved voluntary or compulsory program and, as a result, is totally or partially incapacitated, may apply to Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) for compensation or may seek compensation for personal injury through legal proceedings. If a prisoner seeks compensation through QCS, a medical examination will be arranged, and QCS will then make a recommendation to the minister about compensation for the prisoner. It is strongly recommended that any prisoner who is injured whilst in prison seek legal advice as soon as possible and obtain legal advice as to their options and statutory time limits before deciding on how to seek redress for their injury.
Negligence and criminal compensation
Prisoners may be able to sue for compensation where they can establish negligence, although damages will be limited as described above. Time limits for actions now apply to people in prison in the same way as for people not in prison. People in prison should be conscious of the importance of obtaining and preserving evidence relevant to their injury. This may include a request for preservation of camera records, obtaining written statements from witnesses and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible, as well as obtaining medical records under the right to information. Much of this evidence will be destroyed if it is not requested within one month of the injury. Legal advice should be sought as soon as possible in relation to how best to seek redress for the injury and advice and assistance in relation to evidence relevant to any future claim for damages compensation for the injury.
People who are assaulted in prison can apply for criminal compensation from the attacker (if that person is convicted). Legal advice should also be obtained if the assault was due to negligence by or in connection with the prison.