If you have been injured in a crime of violence, perhaps assaulted at work or attacked in a nightclub, for example, you can often make a criminal injuries compensation claim. This can be alongside any criminal prosecution of your attacker of course.
To claim compensation, you have to submit a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. You can do this yourself, either online or on paper, so why would you use a solicitor? Here are 6 very good reasons to do so:
- The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority reject many claims on technicalities. I would estimate that of the criminal injuries compensation claims which I have run, half are rejected, often incorrectly so. Frequently, I have had to recommend a Review, which is the first stage of the appeals process. So how can you tell if your case has been rejected legitimately or not? You probably can’t, without advice. This is a sad situation for innocent, injured people. With specialist solicitors instructed from the outset, your claim will have the best chance of being accepted first time.
- You might not receive the right amount of compensation. If the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority does not reject your claim they should then go on to pay you compensation. But how do you know if they have paid the right amount in your case? In my experience, they will often pay you too little. Again, without expert advice from a solicitor it will be difficult to be sure. You might lose out on some compensation which you deserve.
- Be prepared for receiving quite a lot of correspondence from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. This correspondence usually has strict time limits for when you must respond. So, if you don’t like paperwork, my advice is to give it someone who deals with paperwork for a living.
- Advice you can trust. If you are intending to seek legal representation, I would be most dubious about using a Claims Management Company (link). Their fees are likely to be similar, if not the same, as those of a solicitor. Solicitors, however, are more likely to know what they are doing. If you have already begun your claim with a firm, and you are not satisfied with them, remember you are always entitled to transfer your case to a firm of solicitors you trust. My firm specialises in representing injured people who want to change their solicitors.
- Legal protections when using a solicitor. I am always amazed at how the strict regulation of the legal profession is only vaguely known by the public. Most people assume that all lawyers are regulated, which entails meeting certain standards and have consumer protections in place. Some legal work does not require practitioners to be regulated at all. Someone who is practising as a solicitor (note: solicitor, not lawyer) must be registered with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA). This comes with a number of benefits clients, which include imposing a code of conduct on the solicitor, requiring standards of qualification and training, and a operating a compensation fund for any clients who are victims of malpractice.
- You can take a step back from your case. Making a claim for a criminal injury can be very distressing. It will involve many reminders of the ordeal you have been through. On top of that, without legal representation, you must deal with all of the responsibilities of your claim yourself – meeting deadlines and other requirements. A solicitor can provide some emotional separation between the events which caused your injury and the running of your case. Hopefully this will mean experiencing less distress as you claim. It will also mean you have access to a ready source of level-headed advice.
If you still want to run your own claim, I wish you well, and recommend that you read the Guide to the Scheme carefully. You could also involve a voluntary organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau when completing the application.
Yes, it is annoying giving up 25% plus VAT of your compensation to pay for your solicitor, but 100% of nothing is nothing.
Truth Legal is always ready to help you with your criminal injury compensation claim. We are usually able to deal with your claim on under a No Win No Fee Agreement. We also offer free consultations with no obligation to proceed further. Contact us today to get started.