Criminal Injuries Compensation
Falling victim to a violent crime can be a harrowing experience for all those involved. Victims in Great Britain are now able to use a redress scheme to compensate them for their criminal injuries. Government funded, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was designed to provide compensation to innocent victims of violent crime.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) was set up to process claims and issue compensation.
The rules surrounding how the scheme is delivered and the payments awarded are defined through Parliament.
Payments are calculated using a tariff of injuries and this is determined under the wider guidance of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012. The tariffs specify particular injuries which are listed in the tariff and those which are excluded.
The seriousness of the injury will determine the level of compensation awarded. The scheme recognises that they can never fully compensate victims for what they had to go through, but the payments are issued as recognition to the victim.
The compensation scheme covers a range of different claims including those for;
- Mental or physical injury following on from a violent crime
- Loss of earnings – When you have a reduced capacity to work as a direct result of your injuries
- Special expenses – Sometimes there may be additional costs incurred as a direct result of the incident. Special expenses can only be claimed if the claimant has been unable to work or incapacitated for a period in excess of 28 weeks
- Fatality as a result of a violent crime – Inclusive of payments for parental services, financial dependency, bereavement payments and funeral payments
It is important to consider that not all claims for compensation will be successful. There are strict eligibility criteria and the applicant must meet the regulations of the scheme.
The eligibility criteria for the Compensation Scheme is quite strict and to be eligible, claimants must have;
- Suffered an injury that is deemed to be serious enough to warrant the minimum award which is currently £1,000
- Been injured as a result of a violent act in England, Scotland or Wales. Offenders don’t need a conviction for the claim to be successful.
- The application must be made within two years of the violent incident occurring.
Claimants are not eligible to apply under the scheme if;
- The injury was sustained before 01 August 1964
- The claimant has already made an application for compensation in relation to the same injury under the scheme set up in 2008 or any other scheme prior to this in England, Scotland or Wales
- The injury happened before 01 October 1979 and the offender who caused the injury lived in the same household
- The injury or violent act happened outside of the UK.
Awards can be refused or reduced in a number of situations including;
- The behaviour or conduct of the claimant before, during or after the incident
- If the claimant has a criminal record
- The claimant’s failure to cooperate with the CICA or Police
- There is a lengthy delay in informing the police or other organisation of the incident after it occurred.
Decisions about awarding compensation to the victim are made following a set of rules outlined in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. These guidelines provide detailed information on eligibility and payments which can be issued.
Applying to the CICA
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme should only be used as a last resort after all other possibilities of compensation have been exhausted.
The scheme will expect claimants to provide evidence that they have tried to obtain insurance, damages, social security benefits or other forms of compensation for their injuries before seeking compensation from the CICA.
During the application process, claimants may be asked to provide evidence that they have tried to pursue action against the offender and identified whether there was a reasonable chance of success, asked employers about damages or insurances or applied for all eligible benefits.
Decisions cannot be made until the CICA is satisfied that the claimant has thoroughly explored all other avenues of seeking compensation.
The CICA state that the claim must be submitted as soon as possible following on from the incident, and no more than two years after it occurred.
This timeframe can only be extended in exceptional circumstances to excuse why there has been such a delay or where evidence has been provided to support an application which means that complex and lengthy investigations are required.
If you have been a victim of a violent crime, you will be asked to complete a scheme issued application form. This form will collect detailed information about you and the incident. CICA will request the following information;
- The date, time and location of the violent crime that led to the incident
- A brief description of what happened
- Crime reference number issued by the Police
- Details of the police officer(s) who dealt with the case and the police station where it was dealt with
- Description of the injuries that you sustained
- Contact details for your GP or any other medical specialist who assisted with your injuries
Applying for Compensation
Making an application to the CICA will involve the completion of a main application and supplementary forms which may require completion by a third party such as a parent or guardian or where the claimant is also claiming for loss of earnings.
The CICA website will provide detailed information about which forms you need to complete and how they should be completed.
The forms for criminal injuries compensation include;
- Injuries from a single violent crime
- Injuries following on from a period of abuse
- A fatality as a result of a violent crime
- Additional forms include;
- Claims for loss of earnings or special expenses
- An application for a parent/guardian applying for a child under the age of 18
- An application for someone applying on behalf of an adult who has been legally deemed incapable of managing their own affairs
- Applications for representatives of individuals such as solicitors
Once your application has been submitted for consideration, the CICA will carefully review the information provided and reach their decision.
The decision of the CICA will be based on ‘the balance of probabilities’ which is very different from a criminal court where a case must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Reaching a decision based on a balance of probabilities means that decisions will be reached based on a view of what is likely to have occurred rather than what didn’t happen.
The CICA do not need to wait for a criminal trial to be concluded before they reach a decision, provided that they have sufficient evidence to make a decision on the merits of your claim.
Once the CICA have received the full application form, they will assign a unique personal reference number. A Claims Officer from CICA will carefully review the information that you have provided, consulting evidence, criminal records and medical records.
If you are also claiming for loss of earnings or special expenses, the CICA will also need to obtain information about your income.
The length of time it takes to assess claims will very much depend on a number of factors with complex cases taking a considerable amount of time.
If the CICA decide to reject your application, they will inform you why the claim was rejected and send you information about how to appeal the decision.
Appeals are made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel (CICAP) who process appeals for compensation claims which were submitted after the 01 April 1996.
Appeals are heard through the Criminal Injuries Compensation First Tier Tribunal and any applications for appeal must be made within 90 days of the CICAs final decision.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.