Being the victim of a violent crime is often a frightening and traumatic experience and the mental or physical injuries can remain for a long time after the incident. Whether you are a victim of an attack, assault, sexual abuse or mental trauma, a claim can be made and you could receive substantial compensation.
Reports have revealed that violent crimes causing injury are decreasing, from 2.27m reported cases in 1995, gradually falling to 621,000 in 2014. Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics show crime decreased by 7% in 2014, the lowest recorded levels since 1981 when the Crime Survey for England and Wales first began. Despite evidence that violent crime is decreasing, 1.3m violent incidents were still reported in 2014.
Research from the Equality Trust (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/research-digest-vio...) suggests a correlation between national wealth, inequality and violent crime levels. As countries become richer and inequality lessens, violent crime rates drop. The Equality Trust suggests this may be a partial explanation for the decrease in England and Wales.
In England and Wales, up to 40,000 applications for compensation as a result of crime are made every year (sce: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/criminal-injuries-compensati...)
The latest figures reveal that 55% of these claims were for £3000 or less, but the awards range from £1,000 to £250,000 (sce: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...)
Criminal injuries compensation can be claimed under the government “Crimes of Violence” category. The case claimed for must fall under specific criteria to receive the award. These terms are detailed in the CICA rules and regulations (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/243480/9780108512117.pdf)
Can a solicitor help victims injured in a crime?
You can make a claim direct to the Government for Criminal Injuries. However, government statistics for the Criminal Injuries reveal that 58% of people who make a direct claim receive zero compensation. Reports show that your chances of making a successful claim are increased significantly by using a solicitor.
Who can make a claim?
A claim can be made by blameless victims of violent crime, or people whose loved ones have died as a result of a violent crime.
It is also possible to claim for a mental injury if you were affected by the immediate aftermath of a crime where a loved one was injured. This includes the mental trauma of being present at the incident or scene. The claimant will have had the mental trauma diagnosed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
If your relative has died as a result of an incident you may be eligible for a bereavement claim. You will be able to claim if you are: a spouse or civil partner, a partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years before death, a former spouse or civil partner who was financially dependent on the deceased or a parent or child of the deceased.
The detailed criteria concerning who is eligible for payments can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
Who can a claim be made against?
In certain cases the claim can be made against the criminal directly. However, this is rare and unadvisable as they do not tend to have the funds available to pay compensation. If the crime happens at work it may be possible to claim against your employer in the same way you would claim for an accident in the workplace. The most common method is to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), who operate the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government funded scheme designed to compensate blameless victims of violent crime in Great Britain. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), administer the Scheme and decide all claims.
The rules of the Scheme and the value of the payments awarded are set by Parliament and are calculated by reference to a tariff of injuries. The scheme was developed as a way of society recognising that victims of violent crime should be compensated.
The CICA publish yearly figures on the applications process. Although the number of applications being dealt with reduced, the latest published figures (2011/2-2012/13) revealed that the average time taken to reach a decision increased from 7.8 months to 8.8 months. (sce: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/246744/0222.pdf)
What can be done to maximise the chances of a successful claim?
The scheme is intended as a last resort where there is no other method of compensation, insurance or similar available. Assuming this is the case, the chances of success are increased by reporting the claim quickly. The scheme does not need to wait for a trial to happen, as it uses the legal basis of “balance of probabilities” meaning what is the most likely version of events, not the criminal court test which is “beyond reasonable doubt”.
In practice this means that CICA can make an award before a trial ever happens, or make an award where the prosecution is unsuccessful for some reason.
The scheme requires the violent crime to be reported to the police as a prerequisite. In cases where there is a delay in reporting it the CICA will ask for detail as to why and take this into account.
If the first application to the CICA is rejected, there is an appeals process: the CICAP (Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel). This can be approached in the case of rejection but only within 90 days of the initial decision, which your solicitor will deal with for you.
What can be claimed for?
There are many different types of mental and physical injuries that can be claimed for. These include but are not limited to:
- Mental or physical injury following a crime of violence;
- Sexual or physical abuse;
- Loss of earnings - where you have no or limited capacity to work as the direct result of a criminal injury;
- Special expenses payments - these cover certain costs you may have incurred as a direct result of an incident. You can only ask us to consider special expenses if your injuries mean you have been unable to work or have been incapacitated to a similar extent for more than 28 weeks;
- Fatality caused by a crime of violence including bereavement payments, payments for loss of parental services and financial dependency; and funeral payments.
Can compensation be claimed if the incident made an existing medical condition worse?
An existing problem or injury can be claimed for is it is made worse, or exacerbated by the incident. For example, if an existing back condition was made worse by a violent crime you may be able to make a claim. An independent medical expert would determine what the effect was on the claimant and the compensation awarded would be dependent on their findings.
How soon after the incident can you claim?
The CICA encourages claims to be made “as soon as possible” but within a time limit of up to 2 years. It is possible to ask for an extension if evidence is shown proving the claim could not have been made earlier.
For anyone under 18 the time limit starts at their 18th birthday, so a claim can be made up to the age of 20. Again, the CICA recommends the claim is put forward as soon as possible as it is easier to prove the injuries were caused by the criminal act. If you have parental responsibility for a child you should make the application on their behalf.
What if the criminal is untraceable?
The criteria for making a successful claim specifies that the claimant must be the victim of a violent crime, they must have reported it to the police and to (show) they have sustained injury as a result of the crime. The scheme does not insist the criminal is traced, rather these factors are complied with.
What if it is unclear whether a crime was committed?
For a claim to be made to the CICA a violent crime must have been committed and it must have been reported to the police. If you are unsure whether a crime was committed the appropriate course of action would be to contact the police to report the incident as soon as possible. Only if this is viewed as a violent crime will a claim be possible.