Criminal injuries compensation

Criminal injuries compensation

If you were the victim of a crime that took place in the past two years, you may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation.

Claims for this type of compensation are handled by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a government funded body who arrange compensation for victims of crime, even if the person who carried out the crime has not been caught. If the person is caught but doesn’t have funds, CICA will make sure that you are compensated. There is a tariff which sets out exactly what you will receive for different types of injuries sustained as a result of a crime, and these help you to work out how much compensation you will receive.

Note that in certain circumstances the two year deadline can be extended – see below.

What type of injuries can I claim for?

If you suffered from an injury – whether physical or psychological – you can make a claim for criminal injuries compensation, provided that the injury is valued at £1,000 or above.

There is a very wide range of injuries defined in the tariff, including:

  • mental or physical injury
  • sexual or physical abuse

You may also be able to claim for losses, such as:

  • loss of earnings – where as a result of your injury, you are not able to work or only have limited capacity to do so
  • special expenses payments – these may be paid if you have been unable to work or have been incapacitated to that extent for more than 28 weeks

If a violent crime resulted in a fatality, you may be able to get:

  • bereavement payments
  • payments for loss of parental services and financial dependency
  • and funeral payments

Keep in mind that not all claims made under the scheme are successful. We can advise you on the likelihood of your claim being accepted.

The Hardship Fund

If your injuries do not match those described on the tariff of injuries, there is also a Hardship fund that you can make a claim from. This is open to low paid workers who are temporarily unable to work due to being a victim of a violent crime. The Hardship Fund is only available where the injuries were sustained in England and Wales.

Should I make a claim?

“People who are the victims of a crime can feel a range of emotions. They might feel shock or numbness initially, but this can be replaced with feelings of guilt and shame. Many victims start to question whether there was anything they could have done to prevent the crime.

If you can relate to this, you should know that what you are feeling is perfectly normal – but it is also wrong. You are not in any way to blame for what happened to you. Yes, it is possible that had you acted a certain way – for example, not walked down that dark alley, or not taken a particular route – you might have avoided being victim to the crime committed. But it just means someone else would have been the victim instead. The fact that you were where you were when the crime took place was completely unfortunate and unavoidable. You are not to blame at all.

It is therefore completely right that you should make a claim for compensation. You will have experienced a whole range of emotions because of what happened to you.

Shock, disbelief, numbness, anger, denial, pain, fright, obsession, panic, anxiety and depression are all common reactions or consequences. Some people never feel the same way again.”

You must also never succumb to the ‘pull yourself together’ mentality that some people have. The psychological effect of being a victim of crime can be substantial. Never listen to someone who suggests you should sweep your feelings under the carpet. This is not a healthy way to deal with your emotions.

While claiming criminal injuries compensation will not erase the terrible experience that you’ve been through, it can help to restore a sense of justice and balance.

What do I claim for?

As a victim of crime you can claim for the physical or psychological effects of what happened to you. Often it will be a combination of the two.

The CICA will consider your case and decide if you were caught up in a criminal act in which you played no part, and whether this led to you suffering a physical or psychological injury, or both.

The criminal act could be anything from an attack on the street or an assault in a bar, to domestic abuse or being a witness to something very traumatic such as an armed robbery.

Physical injuries are usually easily identified – such as cuts, bruises or even broken bones.

Psychological injuries might include anxiety, depression and stress which may become obvious in the months or years following the attack.

Remember that you need to make the claim within two years of the crime taking place.

How serious do my injuries need to be?

To make a claim, your injuries must qualify for the CICA’s £1,000 minimum pay-out. The CICA pays up to a maximum of £500,000 compensation. As noted above, there are set pay-outs for different types of injury. You can also claim for various expenses such as loss of earnings and medical bills.

Although our team of injury lawyers won’t be able to tell you exactly how much criminal injuries compensation you are entitled to, we can give you a reasonably accurate estimate, based on the CICA tariff system.

The actual amount of criminal injuries compensation that you receive depends how serious your injuries are and the impact they will have on your life going forward. If, because of your injuries (either psychological or physical), you cannot earn the same living going forward as you did before the crime took place, this will be taken into consideration. The final calculation of criminal injuries compensation will include any direct expenses that have arisen because of your injury such as travel and medical expenses. When meeting your injury lawyer it is helpful if you can bring any evidence of those expenses that you have.

What happens if they didn’t catch the person/people who committed the crime?

You will still be able to claim the same compensation, even if the person who committed the crime has not been caught or was not convicted. You can make a claim provided that (a) a crime took place and (b) you suffered from a personal injury as a result.

The two essential elements to a criminal injuries compensation claim are that (a) you should have been an innocent bystander when the crime took place and (b) you suffered some injury – physical or psychological – as a result. So what does that mean exactly?

Well, for example, the getaway driver for a robbery, while not actually taking part in the robbery, would certainly not be classed as an innocent bystander. If the driver was injured while the crime took place, he/she would not be able to claim compensation from the fund.

To take another example, if you went along with two friends to someone’s house, knowing the two friends intended to assault the person, a claim for the psychological stress suffered as a result of seeing the assault would be unlikely to succeed.

As you can see, a key part of the claim is that the victim was an innocent bystander. An innocent bystander is someone who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – for example, they are walking down the street and they get mugged, or they are hit in a bar or club because of a brawl that they were not involved with.

Are there any other ways I can get compensation?

Yes – and it is expected that you exhaust all other methods first. You might, for example, be able to bring a civil claim if the person who committed the crime has been caught and has funds. You might also be able to claim on your insurance. Your claim from the CICA will only be successful if you can show you have exhausted all other methods first. Speak to us for more information about this.

Can the two year time limit ever be extended?

Yes. You are expected to apply as soon as it is reasonably practical for you to do so. If you are an adult, this will usually be no more than two years after the crime was committed. However, this can be extended if exceptional circumstances exist where you would not have been able to make the claim earlier and the evidence in support of the application allows it to be determined without further extensive enquiries by a claims officer.

If you do want the CICA to consider an application outside of the two year deadline, you’ll need to provide evidence that shows why the application could not have ben made earlier. You also need to be provide supporting evidence for your claim that allows the claims officer to make their decision without having to make further extensive enquiries.

What if I was under 18 when the crime took place?

If you were under the age of 18 when the crime took place and the incident was reported to the police before you turned 18, assuming nobody made a claim on your behalf, you’ll have up until your 20th birthday to make a claim. Speak to us for more information about this.

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