Have you been injured in a violent attack?
If you have been injured as a result of violent crime, you may be able to claim compensation for your criminal injuries. The government-backed Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) administers a successful scheme which compensates victims of violent crime for their injuries and related financial losses.
Violent crime includes (but is not limited to) assault, actual and grievous bodily harm, arson and sexual attack. Compensation from the CICA is also available if a close family member has been the victim of murder or manslaughter, or died as a result of another violent criminal act.
Injuries that may be compensated by the CICA include both physical injuries as result of a criminal act; and psychological injury after witnessing a violent crime (or its immediate aftermath) involving someone with whom you had a close relationship.
Claiming compensation from the CICA
You can claim compensation even if the person who injured you has not been arrested or convicted of the crime. However, the incident in which you suffered injuries must have been reported to the police, otherwise the CICA will not entertain your claim. You will need to give as much information as possible to the CICA to show that you were the victim of a crime. This may include providing a police crime / accident number; and giving details of any witnesses or providing a witnessing statement; and medical evidence to substantiate your claim.
What can I claim for?
You can claim compensation up to the maximum of £500,000. Payments for physical injuries are made on a ‘tariff’ system in which injuries are graded according to severity. Compensation ranges from £1000 at the bottom of the scale to £250,000 at the top end. For instance, permanent partial deafness will attract compensation of £1,800 and a simple fractured skull that requires no surgery will attract a payout of £3,500.
In addition to personal injury compensation, you may also be able to claim for:
- Loss of earnings if you were unable to work for more than 28 weeks after the attack
- Special expenses payments such as medical treatment, equipment and care
- Funeral payments, and
- Certain other payments in fatal cases
If you were financially dependent on the person who was killed following a violent act, you can apply for a dependency award. Dependent children under 18 years of age may be able to claim for loss of paternal services.
What can’t I claim for?
The scheme does not cover minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, injuries sustained in normal road traffic accidents (unless a vehicle was deliberately targeted) or sexual assault within the family pre-1979 (when the rules were changed to allow compensation for injuries inflicted by family members).
The CICA will not provide compensation if you were injured in a fight that you started, provoked or agreed to take part in.
How do I apply for compensation?
Obtain a compensation form from your local police station or Victim Support Scheme, or download a form from the CICA website. You would not normally need to obtain specialist legal advice to make a claim, but if your claim could be complex, you should speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible for expert advice. You must claim within two years of the incident, except in certain circumstances: for instance, if you are applying on behalf of a child.
Do note that the CICA may take into account your behaviour when deciding what is an appropriate award. For instance, your application could be reduced – or even refused – on the basis of your conduct. Behaviour that will be taken into account includes failure to cooperate with the CICA or the police, and any delays in informing the police of the incident concerned.
The CICA takes between eight months and one year to assess claims. A claims officer will write to tell you the decision, giving reasons if your application is rejected, and telling you how any compensation awarded will be paid. If you disagree with the decision, contact CICA for details of its appeals process.
Example of criminal injuries compensation
You have been caught up in a fight outside a nightclub. You were walking past a group of people fighting when someone hit you in the face with a glass bottle. You needed medical treatment, including stitches and now have permanent scars on your face. You can claim criminal injuries compensation for your pain and suffering, and for any other losses mentioned above – providing full details to the CICA in your application. The CICA will decide on what is fair compensation for your personal injuries and other losses in all the circumstances of your case.
In addition, if the person who attacked you is successfully prosecuted, the court may order the offender to pay you compensation for your injuries. You should provide full information about your injury and its effects to the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers who are prosecuting your attacker – including loss of earnings, medical and travel expenses and losses such as theft of property or damage to clothing. This information can then be relayed to the judge who will decide what is an appropriate compensation order.
If you have any concerns about making an application under the criminal injuries compensation scheme, do take expert legal advice from personal injury solicitors.