Someone who has been injured as a result of violent crime may be able to claim compensation for their injuries through a government agency called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The CICA’s scheme allows victims the chance to recover compensation in situations where ‘normal’ personal injury claims may not be possible. Personal injury claims are usually directed against the party who can be held legally responsible for the injury. But if you have suffered injury through a violent crime, this is rarely possible. So making a claim to the CICA offers you the opportunity to recover compensation from the CICA’s fund instead – and this also means that there is no requirement, when making a CICA claim, for anyone to have been caught or convicted for the crime in which you were injured.
This blog looks at the process which CICA claims follow. But if you would like to know more about whether you are eligible to make a CICA claim, our various claims pages can help you further:
Making the CICA claim application
It is free to make a claim application to the CICA and it can be submitted through an online form on the government’s website.
You will need to provide certain pieces of information. These may include:
- The details of the crime in which you were injured, including the date and location.
- The police station to which the crime was reported.
- Any crime reference number you have.
- Your GP’s details.
- The details of any other medical facilities you attended in connection with your injury (such as hospitals or dental surgeries).
- The details of any unspent criminal convictions you have.
You do not need a solicitor, or any legal representative, to make a CICA claim. However, you should give serious thought to whether you want to handle the claim yourself or not. Given the subject matter of the claim, the process may evoke painful memories, and having an experienced solicitor on your side – to take the pressure off and advise you on your legal rights – may prove invaluable.
Investigating your claim
Provided the CICA is satisfied you are eligible to claim, they will begin an investigation into your criminal injury. This will involve contacting the police to confirm that:
- The crime was reported to the police.
- You were injured in that crime.
- You co-operated during any investigation of the crime, as far as you were reasonably able.
- Your conduct before, after, or during the crime does not mean that a compensation award would be inappropriate. An example of negative conduct, which the CICA might consider, is if an applicant had deliberately provoked the offender to attack them, and then was injured as a result.
The CICA will also check whether you have a criminal record. This is because the CICA is empowered to reduce or withhold compensation from an applicant if there are circumstances relating to their character which would make it inappropriate for them to receive an award. For example, if they have an unspent conviction for an offence which carried a custodial sentence.
Assessing your injuries
If the CICA is satisfied by the matters mentioned above, they may begin gathering medical evidence to assess the extent of your injuries. This will usually involve obtaining your GP and hospital records (and/or dental records) for information on your injuries.
However, the CICA may also ask you to provide a medical report, particularly where you have ongoing symptoms. This will be prepared by an independent medical expert, following a similar process to medical examinations for other kinds of personal injury claim. Our blog on what to expect from a medical examination can provide you with more information about this.
An unfortunate fact of the scheme is that the CICA will not award compensation for any injuries which they considered to be ‘minor’. The CICA use a tariff to value different injuries, and if the evidenced injuries do not fall into the minimum category (valued at £1,000), the claim will be rejected.
You can view the CICA’s full tariff of injury valuations in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 (the tariff is Annex E in the document).
The CICA’s decision
Once they have gathered the evidence they require, the CICA will either make an offer of compensation or reject the claim.
If the CICA have offered an award and you wish to accept it, you or your representatives must confirm this to the CICA and they will arrange payment. For a CICA claim made on behalf of a child, the CICA will hold the money in a bank account, accruing interest, until the child turns 18.
Benefits can be affected by CICA compensation payouts, so it is important to be aware of what you can do to minimise any negative consequences. Our blog post: Will CICA Compensation Affect Your Benefits? contains more information on this.
The CICA might reject a claim on a number of possible grounds (in addition rejecting claims which do not meet the eligibility requirements). As mentioned above; failing to co-operate with the police; issues over your conduct around the time of the incident; and holding previous, unspent convictions, can all influence the CICA’s decision. In addition to these, the CICA will not award compensation where the perpetrator of the crime stands to gain any benefit from the award. This can be particularly relevant in CICA domestic abuse claims if an applicant is still living with their abuser.
Appealing the CICA’s decision
If you disagree with the CICA’s decision, it is possible to appeal to the criminal injuries compensation tribunal. For example, you might dispute the rejection of your claim by the CICA or disagree with the amount of compensation they have awarded.
You must make your appeal within 90 days of the CICA’s decision, in the majority of cases. However, late appeals may sometimes be allowed if there are strong grounds for being unable to appeal within the time limit.
If you are thinking of making an appeal, and you are handling the claim yourself, it is recommended that you seek legal advice before you do so. A solicitor can help you to assess the strength of your case and prepare it so that it may have the best chances of success.
The tribunal has the power to change the CICA’s decision, alter the compensation amount, or request that the CICA reconsider your case. Again, legal support can be critical in avoiding the risks of the tribunal reducing your compensation or arriving at a less-favourable decision.
How long do CICA claims take?
Many things can affect the length of a CICA claim, including the severity of the injuries involved and whether treatment is ongoing. As a rough estimate, it may take 12 to 18 months for the CICA to make a decision in your claim.
For claims involving sexual assault, the CICA operates a fast-track process which can allow a decision within 8 weeks. However, it relies upon the applicant agreeing to have their claim decided upon the police evidence only, and because this does not involve consideration of medical evidence, it means it will not be suitable for claims involving severe injuries or psychological harm.
Finding out more
If you are thinking about making a CICA claim, we have several pages dedicated to claims for criminal injuries suffered in different situations:
Also, you can contact us if you would like to talk about your circumstances and whether you can claim compensation.
From one of the UK’s most read legal blogs.