Compensation for Injuries Arising from Criminal Assaults

Unfortunately, law-abiding people can get caught up in crimes of violence, resulting in them sustaining serious injuries.

Following a violent crime, the police will carry out an investigation and hopefully the perpetrator of the offence will be appropriately punished. Whilst there can be some sense of justice in seeing an offender punished for their acts of violence, the innocent survivor of such crimes should receive some personal benefit as a recognition of the harm they have suffered. They should receive compensation and thus if you have been a victim of crime of violence please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case. Please call us today on 0333 123 9099 or email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk.  Alternatively, please complete our online form.

It is open to the victim to pursue the offender direct for payment of compensation. Regrettably this may not be a realistic option. The victim is unlikely to want to have any contact with the offender. Even if they do, the offender may not have the financial means to make a payment of compensation.

Fortunately, there is another route to compensation that does not involve having contact with the offender. That road to compensation is a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (“CICA”) is a government organisation that runs a scheme which makes payments to blameless victims of violent crime in accordance with Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme. 

The current scheme was launched in 2012, although the compensation scheme is open to victims of violent crime which were sustained long before this particular version of the scheme came into force. That is particularly important for victims of childhood sexual abuse, who have only recently felt able to come forward and report such crimes to the police. There are separate rules relating to those seeking compensation for childhood sexual abuse and they need to be carefully considered when making an application for compensation.

The CICA aim to provide compassionate, efficient and a fair service to victims of violent crime. They recognise that no amount of money can fully compensate a victim of crime for the injuries they have suffered and its consequences. Any payment is intended as an expression of public sympathy for what was a very distressing experience and in some cases, life changing injuries.

It is therefore important that where serious and life changing injuries have been sustained as a result of a crime of violence, full and proper compensation is obtained. The CICA scheme is run on a tariff system, which means the award is determined by the nature and severity of the injuries. The highest award the CICA can make is £500,000, but the vast majority of payments are for substantially lower sums. A solicitor will be able to advise you of the likely range of awards once they have a full understanding of the extent of the injuries and the consequences upon your health.

The scheme not only makes payments to those who are direct victims of crimes of violence but also to those who sustain an injury when they seek to apprehend an offender or where they are injured when preventing a crime.

Payment of compensation is not limited to survivors, but also to relatives of those who sustain fatal injuries as a result of the violent crime.

There are many eligibility conditions, so it is important to understand whether you will be entitled to compensation.    One important rule is about time. In the majority of cases an application for compensation should be made within two years of the violent crime. However, there are exceptions and in some cases it may be possible to recover compensation even when the report to the police, about the crime, is made many years after the offence took place. This is so in cases of child sexual abuse, where the rule is that the claim for compensation must be made to the CICA within two years of the crime being reported to the police. 

The rules relating to the timing of an application for compensation can be seen as complex. Although applications for compensation can be made outside of the time limits prescribed within the scheme rules, such applications will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances and where the evidence presented in support of an application for compensation means it can be determined (as to whether someone is entitled to compensation) without further extensive enquiries by the CICA.

There are other important qualifying conditions for compensation so taking legal advice may maximise your chances of making a successful application for compensation.

Until recently it was the case that the CICA would withhold making payments of compensation to child victims of sexual abuse, on the grounds that they had consented to the sexual relationship.   The CICA came under much criticism, following which new guidelines were issued. The guidance for the CICA states, “Even if it appears that the minor expressed consent to the acts in question, it cannot be assumed that this was given because the child wanted to engage in sexual activity as this may actually be a symptom of the coercive control.  The surrounding circumstances are always required to be investigated as these may indicate that the situation was abusive and the consent was not true consent”

The CICA have also informed their staff, dealing with applications for compensation arising out of child sexual abuse, that an applicant for compensation may not realise they were being abused at the time of the incident, due to the behaviour of the abuser. It is recognised that victims can be tricked into thinking they are in a loving, consensual relationship, even though the reality is that they are being subjected to the abuser’s control.

CICA Procedure

When an application is made, for compensation, the applicant is required to fully cooperate with enquiries, including information relating to any other claims (possibly against the offender) that the applicant is making. The applicant must cooperate with the investigation by the CICA and provide such information which the applicant has, or is reasonably available to them.  The CICA will obtain medical evidence, to evaluate the nature and severity of the injury, which will influence the final award of compensation.

If successful a payment can be made for the injury sustained, an amount to reflect an inability to work as a result of the criminal injury and, in some cases, medical treatment costs.     Although the maximum payment under the scheme is £500,000, the vast majority of awards are for less than £25,000. However, in circumstances where the injury is very serious and the individual is unable to return to work, then a very substantial award can be achieved, providing the right evidence is offered to the CICA.

Fatal Injuries

In respect of those cases where fatal injuries are sustained, a relative of the victim may be entitled to compensation. In those circumstances where a payment is merited the CICA may make a bereavement payment, a child’s payment and a dependency payment.

Those relatives entitled to payment, are limited to the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, a parent of the deceased or a child of the deceased. There are detailed rules about who may qualify for a payment. Furthermore, there are very detailed rules on who is entitled to and the amount of a bereavement payment. There are also very detailed rules on compensation that may be payable to the child of a person who sustained fatal injuries. The same applies to the dependency payments.  A contribution can be made in respect of funeral expenses.

Reviews and Appeals

It is our experience that claims for compensation can be turned down at the initial stage, but through a review process, with carefully crafted arguments, it can be possible to persuade the CICA to agree to make a payment.  However, there are detailed conditions relating to a request for a review of the decision by the CICA. If these are not followed then irrespective of the merit of the claim for compensation, the applicant may be deprived of an award.

Even a review of a decision by the CICA does not automatically result in an award being made. The outcome of the review may still be that an award is not to be made, or that if it is to be made, that it is at a lower level than appears reasonable. In those circumstances there is a right of appeal to a tribunal. There are detailed rules relating to the process of an appeal.

Even when the CICA do agree to pay compensation it is often the case that the offer they make is not the maximum that may be obtainable under the CICA scheme. With the detailed knowledge of the rules of the scheme it can be possible, in some cases, to persuade the CICA to increase the level of compensation due to the survivor of the violent crime.

A survivor of a violent crime can make the application themselves. They do not need a solicitor. However, it may be that they will significantly increase their chances of obtaining an award of compensation and maximising the level of compensation, by instructing a solicitor to assist them.

For further information, including making a claim for compensation arising out of a crime of violence, contact us today.  Please call us today on 0333 123 9099 or email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk.  Alternatively, please complete our online form.

Other forms of Compensation

Although a judge in a criminal court may impose a victim surcharge, the money raised from the Victim Surcharge does not go directly to the victim but is used to fund victim services through the Victim and Witness General Fund. 

The criminal court may also make a compensation order against the offender, for money to be paid by the offender to the victim. However, this is unlikely to be for a significant sum

How to make a compensation claim if you have been physically or mentally injured or assaulted

If you have been the victim of a physical or mental assault you could be entitled to compensation, which could include long-term care and rehabilitation, especially if you have suffered from a serious head, brain or spinal injury.

In some circumstances it may be possible to pursue a claim for compensation against the offender.   However, this is relatively unusual.

Depending upon the nature of the crime committed in maybe possible to pursue others in connection with an injury sustained arising out of the criminal offence. For example, the criminal act may have occurred during the course of an individual’s employment and in those circumstances a claim against the employer, or other organisation may be possible.

In those cases a claim of greater value than obtainable under the CICA scheme may be possible. Such a claim for compensation against an individual or organisation (responsible for the offender) may enable the survivor to obtain a higher level of compensation, and compensation that is more reflective of the losses, expenses and injury sustained as a result of the crime. 

There are different time limits for proceeding with a claim against an offender or those responsible for employing or engaging the offender in some activity, eg work or club activity, and therefore it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible after the assault, including child sexual assault, as delay may reduce the prospects of obtaining the right level of compensation.

Contact our compassionate and professional personal injury experts for a free consultation to discuss your case. Please call us today on 0333 123 9099 or email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk.  Alternatively, please complete our online form.