What are the prerequisites for receiving compensation?
The prerequisite for receiving compensation is that there is liability to compensate. The liability to compensate may be based on negligence or strict liability. Negligence means that the authority has been negligent or made a mistake in a reprehensible manner and caused harm. Strict liability means a liability to compensate that is independent of negligence, in which event the only prerequisite is that the authority has acted in a manner that has caused damage. The prerequisite for strict liability is that it has been specifically decreed for some action or that it has been approved in legal practice. For example, the responsibility a controller has for personal data, or environmental damage in general, are types of damage based on strict liability.
Is there a deadline for claiming compensation?
There is no definitive deadline for claiming compensation. However, issues regarding claims for compensation are subject to the legislation on expiry of debt. According to legislation, the right to compensation expires three years after the afflicted party found out or should have found out about the damage and the responsible party, unless the expiry has been interrupted. Interrupting the expiry refers to situations where a claim for compensation has been presented to the government, the government has been reminded of the liability for compensation, or a complaint has been filed against the government.
What is the relationship between the government’s liability to compensate for damage and other systems of compensation?
Primarily, the government’s general liability for damages is the last resort in compensating damage to the afflicted party. Compensation should be claimed primarily through systems of compensation or insurance that are intended for the damage in question (e.g. occupational accident insurance, compensation paid to the wrongfully imprisoned, other types of compensation managed by the State Treasury, private insurance). This does not remove the right to claim compensation for the same accident or damage insofar as they are not compensated through these primary systems. Please note, however, that the prerequisites for compensation vary between systems: even if you were entitled to compensation in the primary system, you are not automatically eligible for compensation, but instead the prerequisites are always investigated separately.
Which reports do I need to provide to the State Treasury?
The processing of compensation for damage always starts with determining the grounds for compensation. That is why you should provide the State Treasury with a report on the grounds upon which you think that the government should pay compensation for the damage to you. If it looks like there are sufficient grounds for compensation, the State Treasury may ask you to provide further accounts of the amount of compensation later on. That is why you should keep any receipts for expenses incurred from the damage.
Damage caused by which parties fall under the purview of the State Treasury?
The State Treasury only processes claims concerned with damage caused by government authorities and it has no authority to investigate damage caused by private parties or municipal authorities. In addition to these, the State Treasury does not process claims for damage caused by the Office of the Chancellor of Justice or the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Some authorities have the mandate on compensation for material and financial damage themselves (damage to real estate caused by operations of the Defence Forces and military crisis management tasks, the police, the Boarder Guard, tax authorities, road maintenance authorities, distraint authorities, and any damage caused by maintaining the registers of the National Land Survey of Finland and land surveying measures). However, the State Treasury has the mandate to process claims arising from personal injuries on behalf of these authorities.
How are compensation matters processed?
After the application has been received, a request for comment is sent to the authority who has caused the damage. After the authority has issued their comment to the State Treasury, the comment is also communicated to the applicant, who may respond to the comment if they wish. If necessary, any unclear issues can be investigated through requests for additional comments from the authorities or requests for complementation or to supplement from the applicant. Once the matter is settled to a sufficient degree in terms of making a decision on the matter, the State Treasury will issue its decision. The applicant will be informed of the decision by mail.
I received a request to supplement from the State Treasury. What should I do?
If your application does not state clearly
- which authority is deemed to have caused the damage,
- what has occurred or
- what your claims are in terms of law,
I received a consultation document from the State Treasury. What should I do?
Once the State Treasury has received a comment concerning a compensation matter from an authority, the comment is usually sent to the applicant as a consultation document. You have the opportunity to review the comment issued by the authority and respond to the State Treasury by explaining your own view on the matters mentioned in the comment. You do not have to respond. If you have not responded by the due date, the matter is transferred for decision.
I received a request for complementation from the State Treasury. What should I do?
If the State Treasury needs you to provide further reports on the amount of the damage, you will be sent a request for complementation. The request for complementation will include information on which documents and receipts you must provide on the amount of the compensation. Please respond to the request in the manner described. If you have not supplied the complementation by the due date, the State Treasury may rule on the matter based on the report already provided on the matter. This means that the claim for compensation may be declined due to an incomplete report. Please note that the request for complementation is not the same as a request to supplement (see FAQ I received a request to supplement from the State Treasury).
How long does it take to process the matter?
The processing time for applications varies greatly depending on the circumstances of the case. The applications are transferred for decision as soon as a report deemed sufficient has been received for them. The average processing time is 6–9 months, but in many cases the decision may be reached sooner. Please note that matters are primarily processed in the order they are received, and the transfer of matters for decision is carried out based on the reports received. Matters cannot be expedited purely based on the circumstances of the applicant.
How is compensation determined?
Compensation for personal injuries concerning pain, suffering and temporary disability as well as permanent disability are based on recommendations by the advisory board for personal injury matters (Henkilövahinkoasiain neuvottelukunta). These recommendations are also applied in courts of law and their purpose is to ensure that applicants are treated equally. When necessary, the State Treasury’s specialist physician is asked to provide a statement. Primarily, the compensation for medical treatment and rehabilitation costs is calculated based on prices in public health care. For material damage, the costs of repairing the damage and other damage arising from the material damage based on realised costs are primarily compensated. If repairing the object is not cost-efficient or the object has been lost/destroyed, the current value of the object may be reimbursed. The current value of used objects is usually less than that of a corresponding new item. Compensation for financial damage requires that the damage has been caused by criminal action, using public authority or that there are other weighty grounds for compensating for the damage. Losses, loss of value or loss of income are usually compensated for financial damage. The actual income (e.g. social allowance) is deducted from the compensation sum instead of the lost income. The purpose of this is to return the afflicted party to the position they were in before the accident.
Why was I not compensated for anguish or general harm?
Special prerequisites are determined for compensation for anguish in the Tort Liability Act. Damages for anguish require that
- the anguish arises from an offence against liberty, honour or the domestic peace or from another comparable offence
- the affected party has been discriminated against by committing an offence
- the personal integrity of the affected party has been particularly seriously infringed upon intentionally or through gross negligence
- the human dignity of the affected party has been intentionally or through gross negligence particularly seriously infringed upon in other ways comparable to infringements mentioned in sections 1–3.
I have already received a decision from the State Treasury, but the same accident has caused me further harm. What should I do?
If the State Treasury has already determined that there are grounds for compensation, i.e. issued a decision based on which you have been paid compensation, you may submit a continued application to the State Treasury concerning the same accident (for new health care costs, for example). You should include the original accident number in the continued application. Continued applications are primarily processed without requesting a comment from the authority that caused the accident.
Where can I lodge a complaint against a decision?
Claims for compensation are civil cases governed by private law. That is why you cannot lodge a complaint concerning the State Treasury with the administrative court. If you are dissatisfied with a decision made by the State Treasury, you can bring a claim against the government in district court. In this event, the State Treasury will be the defendant in court.
Do I have to first claim for compensation from the State Treasury before I can bring a claim?
Bringing a claim against the government does not require that the matter has first been processed by the State Treasury. However, you should usually first claim compensation from the State Treasury and assess whether you should take the matter further to court after the decision has been issued.
Is processing claims free of charge?
Processing claims at the State Treasury is free of charge. In court proceedings, the State Treasury will demand that the legal fees be paid by the opponent.