Have you recently been injured as a result of an attack? Are you wondering whether to pursue a claim for criminal injuries compensation? Well, here’s a question for you. Do you have to pursue your claim through a solicitor? The short answer is no. However, although there is no requirement to use a solicitor to pursue a claim for criminal injury compensation, having an expert on hand to guide and advise you can certainly help to speed matters up.
The problem you might face if you pursue a claim yourself is that the rules relating to criminal injuries compensation claims are not the same as with standard personal injury claims. Standard personal injury claims are generally settled with some form of compromise agreement between the parties. In cases of criminal injury, however, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), a government-appointed, publicly-funded organisation, makes the final decision about what level of compensation should be paid.
In cases administered by CICA there is unfortunately no room for compromise; and that’s why expert help will be needed. The rules set out by the CICA are very strict. Injuries have to be of a certain severity to merit compensating, and will also need to fall within the 25 prescribed levels of criminal compensation before the Authority will agree to pay out.
If you are considering making a claim for criminal injuries compensation following an attack it will certainly help to speak to an experienced lawyer who has a thorough grasp and understanding of the criminal injury compensation process, particularly in relation to more serious cases. However, it’s important to point out straight away that the CICA scheme will not pay for‘ fees, so we will advise you on how best to proceed and whether it would be beneficial to use a solicitor.
If you have suffered a serious injury and will have to cope with financial losses in the longer term, you should usually appoint a specialist criminal injury solicitor to ensure you get the maximum level of compensation. The solicitor will be able to put a claim before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and request damages on your behalf. Our solicitors have a wealth of experience in making such claims and in recovering compensation on behalf of those who have been injured.
Who is eligible to make a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation?
Anyone considering making a claim for criminal injury compensation has to be able to prove the following:
- That they have been assaulted or injured in some way covered by the scheme and have been physically and/or mentally injured as a result
- That they were in England, Scotland or Wales at the time when the injury was sustained
- That they have been injured seriously enough to qualify for at least the minimum award available under the Scheme
- That they received documented medical attention for their injuries
- That they reported the incident to the police within 48 hours
- That they forwarded the application for compensation within 2 years from the date of the incident
These rules are usually strictly implemented. There are occasional circumstances where compensation can still be claimed even if all above requirements are not met: however, these are the exception, rather than the rule. It is also possible to claim criminal compensation for mental trauma, so long as the mental anguish is severe enough to qualify for at least the lowest UK CICA award. Mental anguish generally has to be substantiated and documented for it to be classed as being something that requires ‘compensation’: generally it is helpful if there is recognised trauma that can be quantified, like post-traumatic stress in rape cases and acts of terrorism. These victims are accepted to have both physical and mental injuries due to the extensive research that has been carried out in that area.
What procedure does the CICA follow?
Upon receipt of a completed criminal injuries compensation claim form the CICA will acknowledge receipt and allocate a personal reference number and will thereafter make enquiries of the police, doctors, hospitals and any other relevant organisations. Due to different circumstances attached to each claim there is a wide variation in the time taken for the CICA to come to a decision on whether or not to grant an award and how much the compensation should be. Over 90 per cent of criminal injuries compensation claims are resolved within 12 months of receipt of the application, but in cases where there is a criminal trial or cases involving future loss of earnings or future medical expenses it may take longer. The average time for determination of a claim is 8 months.
If you would like to speak to a specialist about claiming criminal injuries compensation, or would like further information or clarification on the subject of criminal injury compensation claims then contact us by completing the form on this page or calling on 01457 835597.