Being the victim of violence can affect people in a number of different ways. Your injuries may have an impact on your physical or emotional wellbeing, impact your ability to work for a period of time or even permanently as well as affect your personal and social life.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a violent assault and sustained injuries, you may be eligible to get financial compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to help you get back on your feet.
In this article, we set out to answer some frequently asked questions regarding bringing a claim for injuries suffered in an unprovoked violent assault.
What is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme?
This is a government funded scheme, administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which is intended to compensate the innocent victims of violent crimes. This can include the victims of domestic abuse, shaken baby syndrome or unprovoked assaults and one punch violence.
Can I apply?
The scheme is generally available to anyone who has been the victim of a violent crime in England, Scotland, or Wales, including if the crime was on board a British controlled aircraft.
Claims can be made by those who are injured, as well a close relative of someone who has died as a result of an unprovoked violent assault, those who say the crime happen to a loved one (or were there immediately afterwards) and if you paid for the funeral of a person who died.
In order for a claim to be considered, the incident must have been reported to the police.
It’s important to note though that the CICA can refuse or reduce an award of compensation in a number of situations. These include:
- Where the victim might have provoked the assault with their actions immediately preceding the violence.
- If they have failed to co-operate with the Police or any other authority in relation to their investigations into the assault.
- If the injured party has certain convictions themselves.
Should I wait for the police to conclude their investigation?
No, it is not necessary to wait until the police have concluded their investigations, there does not need to be a criminal conviction to enable you to make a claim. The person who committed the crime against you will not have any involvement in your claim to the CICA and any award made comes directly from the CICA.
A strict time limit applies to these types of claims, and you must have submitted your application to the CICA within 2 years of the date of the assault. Different rules apply to children:
- If you are under 18 at the time of the offence, and the crime was reported to the Police before your 18th birthday, you will have until your 20th birthday to apply.
- If the offences were not reported until after your 18th birthday, you have two years from the date of reporting the matter to the Police.
Additionally, you may be able to claim for a crime that happened more than 2 years ago if you are claiming because of childhood sexual or physical abuse, or you cannot claim sooner because your mental or physical health prevented you from doing so.
If you think you have a claim and believe the time limit may have expired, you should act as quickly as possible as the longer the delay the more difficult it can be to overcome.
What are the main reasons why my claim may be refused?
There are a range of reasons why the CICA may refuse an application for compensation. Some of the common reasons are:
- The claim was submitted out of time without good evidence to persuade the CICA to extend the time limit.
- The offence was not reported to the Police.
- The applicant did not fully cooperate with the Police.
- There are issues surrounding the applicant’s behaviour at the time of the offence.
- The applicant has an unspent conviction which resulted in either a custodial sentence or a community order.
- There is insufficient evidence that the applicant was a victim of a crime of violence as defined in the CICA Scheme.
What can I claim under the Scheme?
The CICA Scheme awards compensation for both physical and mental injuries including sexual abuse and domestic violence. They will only award compensation for injuries listed within the Scheme and minor injuries such as bruising, a broken nose or lacerations that do not result in significant scarring will not qualify for an award.
Additional you may also be able to recover lost earnings if you are working at the time of the incident or could not work, for example because you are in full-time education or caring for someone. Evidence needs to be presented to the CICA to show that you are unable to work or have very limited capacity to work as a direct result of the injuries you sustained in the incident. Lost earnings will not be paid for the first 28 weeks you are unable to work, and thereafter only paid at the current rate of statutory sick pay. By way of example if you were not able to work for 20 weeks after sustaining your injuries, you would not be able to claim for lost income.
You may also be able to claim for care, home adaptations or mobility aids that are needed due to your injuries or damage that occurred during the crime to items such as dentures, glasses or walking sticks.
How long will my application take?
There is no set timescale within which the CICA has to respond to an application. Your claim will be assessed on the information you have provided, information obtained from the police and medical evidence if needed. Straightforward claims may be settled as quickly as 8 weeks, whereas more complicated claims could take many years to settle.
Can I challenge the amount awarded?
If you are unhappy with the CICA’s first decision on the amount you should be awarded, you do have the right to apply for a review of that decision. However, the CICA Scheme is very prescriptive, and it is only worth applying for a review if you think a mistake has been made or if the evidence presented shows that you are entitled to higher compensation than that offered. You have 56 days from the date of your decision letter to apply for review. Once the review has been completed, if you remain unhappy with the outcome, you may be able to submit an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal. The Tribunal may require additional evidence to be gathered before listing the matter for a final determination when a panel will consider the evidence, possibly by way of a hearing which could take place in person, via telephone or virtually, and they will issue a decision. A decision issued by the First-Tier Tribunal is generally considered final.
Do I need to instruct a lawyer?
No, full information about the Scheme can be found on the government website and you may apply yourself and deal directly with the CICA. In many cases where it is a straightforward low value claim, we would suggest you apply directly without legal representation as the CICA will not reimburse you for legal fees.
However, if your case is complex or of high value, such as those involving a brain injury, it can be helpful to instruct a solicitor to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
How much does it cost to instruct a lawyer?
At Brain Injury Group our panel firms will always offer you an initial free, no obligation, chat to help you decide whether it would be advantageous to enlist legal help or apply directly.
It is not possible to recover legal costs from the CICA, so these types of claims are generally run on a no win no fee basis, on a Contingency Fee Basis. This means that if you are not successful in obtaining an award from the CIC, no fees will be payable. However, if your claim is successful and an award made, an agreed percentage of your award will be used to pay for legal work undertaken on your behalf.
Your lawyer will discuss all funding options with you and will not commence any legal work on your behalf until this has been agreed.
What if I start a claim myself and then need help?
You may at any point during the process choose to instruct a legal adviser. Many people commence an application to the CICA without legal assistance but find that they need help with the process or evidence required, and at this point seek legal advice.
This article was produced with the assistance of Rachel Thain, Enable Law
Rachel is a Senior Associate in the Enable Law Abuse Team specialising in supporting children and adults that have suffered serious injuries as the result of being assaulted or abused.
In her work Rachel supports abuse survivors and those who have suffered serious assaults to bring civil litigation claims against those that have caused them harm. She has supported some of the most vulnerable people of our community by helping them seek justice against a number of organisations including religious and educational settings, children’s homes, local authorities, scouts, and sports clubs.
Rachel has more than 10 years of experience helping people with complex injuries and ABI access the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme to get financial compensation following being victims of abuse or serious assault. She is caring, approachable and has excellent listening skills which help her clients share their often traumatic experiences so she can offer them the right legal advice based on their individual experience and needs.
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