If you are the victim of a crime in England, Scotland or Wales you can apply to the Government for compensation for your injuries. (Northern Ireland runs a similar but separate scheme). The scheme is run by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or CICA for short.
To be eligible to claim you must be a blameless victim of crime who has been directly injured (mentally or physically) as a result of a crime of violence. It is also possible to claim if you have been a witness to a loved one being the subject of a crime of violence or lost a loved one as a result of a crime.
There are various other eligibility requirements which are set out in the scheme which relate to your residency in the UK and citizenship. Further guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/criminal-injuries-compensation-residency-and-nationality
The scheme is set up electronically and is relatively user-friendly. As you are not entitled to claim the costs of using a Solicitor when making a claim the Government has tried to make the process as simple as possible.
On paper it seems straightforward, but in practice it can be far from so. There are a variety of reasons your claim may be rejected so you need to make sure you keep on top of the claim.
There are any number of factors which can vary the progression of a claim through the CICA but here are a few tips to help you:
- Make sure you report the matter to the police and co-operate with their investigations. It is not necessary that your attacker is convicted but it is key that you have co-operated with the Police. Failing to do so can mean your claim is rejected
- If there are any witnesses you are aware of keep their contact details
- Keep a note of the Crime Reference Number and the details of the Officer dealing with your case
- Take photos of any visible injuries (such as scars) at the outset and as the injuries heal – keep a record of when they were taken and by whom.
- Keep a record of any expenses you incur because of the incident
- Keep a record of any treatment you have and hospitals you attend.
- Make sure you submit your claim within 2 years of the date of the crime – this is different to the normal time period for a personal injury claim – so watch out for it. Children who are injured under the age of 18 have until their 20th Birthday to submit a claim. A parent can bring a claim on their behalf before they are 18.
- If you have any previous convictions yourself make sure you declare these fully to the CICA. They can reduce your award or reject your claim entirely depending on your own criminal history and the criteria they apply is very strict – the best advice is to declare everything at the start
- After you submit your claim the CICA will contact any other agencies involved such as the police or your GP. They may require you to approach your GP directly. It is important to comply with any requests they make of you – or let them know why you can’t – failing to do so can lead to your claim being rejected.
- When you do hear from the CICA they will usually give you strict deadlines to do things by – do your very best to comply with these – but if you can’t, make sure you call them and let them know why.
It is impossible to say how long a claim will take, but it is never in my experience a quick process. Once an award has been made the CICA will notify you. The award is based on a tariff of injuries which apply to all cases assessed.
If you have more than one injury then a reduction will be applied to the second and third injuries. The scheme does not pay for more than three injuries. You will receive:
- 100% of the full tariff for the most serious injury you sustained
- 30% for the second
- 15% for the third
In addition to compensation for your injuries you can claim for certain other losses and expenses. You will only be eligible for loss of earnings if you were in work at the time of the incident and subsequently incapable of work for more than 28 weeks. Even then you will only be able to claim for losses incurred after the first 28 weeks.
If you incur other expenses you can only claim these if you have lost earnings capacity for more than 28 weeks; however they will be paid from the date of the actual injury unlike loss of earnings.
If for any reason you disagree with the award made to you, you are permitted to ask for it to be re-assessed – be careful! There are strict time limits with this and failing to apply in time can result in your award being limited to the amount it was originally assessed at.
You will never be fully compensated for being a blameless victim of crime, but an award can hopefully go some way to helping you move forward.
Claims can be submitted at: https://www.gov.uk/claim-compensation-criminal-injury
Watch out for similarly named websites which pop up under web searches and appear to be the genuine government scheme but aren’t.
Full details of the scheme and the tariff under which injuries are paid can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/243480/9780108512117.pdf
You can also get free advice from agencies such as Victim Support or your local Citizens Advice centre, by:
- telephoning the Victim Support line on 0845 30 30 900 (England and Wales) or 0845 60 39 213 (Scotland);
- visiting their website at www.victimsupport.org.uk or www.victimsupportsco.org.uk; or
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Hopefully in the majority of cases you won’t need a lawyer, but we would recommend that you seek specialist advice if:
- You have multiple complex injuries or had pre-existing ill health at the time of the incident
- Your claim has already been rejected by the CICA
- You potentially have a personal injury claim as well as a CICA claim e.g. making a claim directly against your assailant as well as the CICA, or making a claim against your employer if the incident happened at work
If you feel that you need specialist advice then we offer a service to submit CICA claims on your behalf. We make a charge which is then deducted from any compensation you are awarded; you can discuss this with a member of our team by calling us on Freephone 0800 195 95 90 or click here to submit a claim online.