The ultimate guide to Criminal Injury Compensation (CICA) Claims
If you have suffered from a violent or sexual orientated crime in the United Kingdom, then you could be entitled to Criminal Injury Compensation. This is a government-funded scheme that is operated by an agency that operates within the Ministry of Justice department and allows for victims to obtain a compensation award for personal injury, psychological harm, and loss of earnings. The eligibility of these awards is determined by strict eligibility rules within the scheme.
The CICA was created in 1964 to provide victims of violent or sexual crime with much-deserved compensation following the violent ordeal of which they suffered. They are now based only in Scotland but do deal with claims all over the UK, except Northern Ireland. The CICA scheme is not currently perfect and some of the rules are sometimes very harshly applied. However, the CICA remains a safe place for people to seek compensation with the focus on providing recognition of the trauma that has been suffered that is not always afforded by the Criminal Justice process.
Eligibility rules for criminal assault or abuse claims within the UK
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority often referred to as the CICA, is the government agency that currently manages and controls the scheme. They have a set of rules which are used to determine whether a person is eligible to claim an award. The current key criteria are:
- You must have reported the crime or assault to the police as soon as possible
- The police must have been able to investigate thoroughly throughout the case with your full cooperation
- You must have a medical record which identifies any injuries suffered
- An application to the CICA must have been made within 2 years of the assault
- Anyone applying for the claim with a criminal record can and may be refused compensation immediately
It is worth noting that it is possible to claim after the deadline in cases where the victim has suffered or still suffers from mental health problems or has an exceptional reason for any delay.
Please be aware that the CICA is sometimes confused with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board which is the old term for the authority.
Your privacy and confidentiality during the CICA process
If you make a claim for a criminal compensation award following any violent or sexual assaults that you may have suffered, the process is completely private and confidential. This means that only organisations or people who are involved in the process of determining the eligibility of a case will be aware of the details. This includes the CICA team, the police, your doctor, and your legal representative if you have chosen to be represented by one. The offender will have no knowledge that you have submitted the application and is not involved in any way at all during the process of the claim.
Is it necessary to instruct a solicitor or legal advisor when submitting a claim?
It is possible to claim criminal compensation without the use of a solicitor or legal advisor. In more straightforward cases where the claim is made within the appropriate 2-year application window and there are no other issues such as loss of earnings, you may choose to claim without legal support. However, you should be aware that the CICA is not a charitable organisation, nor do they act as an impartial ombudsman there to guide you through the process. The CICA is a government agency that looks after government funds and has a set of rules which are applied rigidly to each claim.
It is advisable to consider legal support if your case is complex, if deadlines have been missed or if don’t believe you can face dealing with the complex claim’s procedure alone. Having an experienced CICA solicitor can be the difference between a successful or rejected claim, and a solicitor is much more likely to get you the amount you deserve for your suffering. Appointing a solicitor can relieve the stress and make the process much easier for you, as they will guide you through the process, chase up and secure any evidence needed, and support you every step of the way.
Who pays criminal compensation and how is it funded?
There are several different ways in which compensation can be paid to victims of crime, but when you make a claim to the CICA the award is completely funded by the government. Each year the CICA spends roughly around £150 million on victim compensation. Offenders do not contribute at all to this fund, nor do they have any involvement or knowledge that the claim has been made.
What types of evidence are required to make a successful CICA claim?
The claims process involves assessing different pieces of evidence that are acquired from several different sources to determine whether a case is eligible for an award under the scheme. The following is an example of what evidence might be necessary when making a claim:
- Police evidence – The CICA can and will request an overall summary of evidence in the case from the relevant police department. This may also include witness statements.
- Medical evidence – It is important to provide evidence of the injuries which you have sustained from your GP or the hospital treating you.
- Psychological injury evidence – If claiming for psychological injury or harm, it can help your case if you provide evidence from counsellors or your mental health support team.
- Witness evidence – It is useful to provide witness statements or letters of support if your case is complex or may need some negotiation.
- Loss of earnings – If you are claiming for any lost earnings or revenue then you must provide evidence of this with wage slips or HMRC proof of earnings.
How long do you have to make a CICA claim?
The application period for criminal compensation is usually 2 years from the date of the incident or assault. If you miss this window, then you do have the option to request permission for a delayed application, but this will only be allowed if you have ‘exceptional reasons’ for not making the claim sooner. One reason that could be considered as exceptional could involve your health, whether that be mental or physical, for example, if you can prove that you were too unwell mentally or physically to focus on making a claim, then you could be granted an extended period. In cases of sexual abuse or rape assault, the 2-year window will take place from the date of the event or disclosure to the police. These cases are always treated differently from violent assault cases.
How do you know if your case will be accepted and you will receive an award?
Whether your criminal compensation case is accepted or not depends entirely on the CICA criteria and whether sufficient evidence has been provided to show that on the ‘balance of probability’ a crime occurred. If your case has been to court, this is usually a good indicator of probability, but it is also possible to receive a pay-out even if your case does not reach the courtroom.
How long does a CICA claim usually take?
Unfortunately, the claim process for criminal compensation claims can be extremely slow. How long your claim will take often depends on the complexity of the case and the availability of the evidence, but can also depend on whether your injuries have sufficiently healed to allow for a fair assessment. Most criminal compensation claims usually take around 12-18 months to complete, but if further issues arise within the case you may have to wait longer than this. When the case involves sexual assault or abuse there is an option that allows you to settle your claim based on police evidence only, which can result in a much quicker settlement of around 4-6 months.
The top reasons why some assault claims are refused
Not every claim will lead to a settlement being awarded. Here are the top 5 most common reasons that a case is refused according to the 2017/18 annual CICA report:
- The injury falls outside of the scheme criteria – minor injuries and certain simple fractures no longer fall under this claim.
- Failure to cooperate with the claims process – A claim can sometimes be refused if an applicant does not answer all the required questions which are raised during the process or supply sufficient evidence within the allotted time schedule.
- Failure to cooperate with the police – if the applicant failed to cooperate with the police or help to bring the offender to justice following the assault or crime.
- The injury was not sustained as a result of a crime or violence – This controversial issue relates to the CICA interpretation of whether a crime took place or not.
- The applicant has unspent criminal convictions – A criminal record can be an issue when it comes to claiming under the CICA scheme.
Ensure that there is medical evidence of any personal injuries suffered
If you do not seek immediate medical attention for your injury after the assault and there is no hospital or GP record of the injury, you will not be able to claim compensation under the CICA scheme. You need to be able to prove your injuries showing that you have endured pain and suffering from a violent assault crime. If you do not have injuries that are severe enough to warrant medical intervention, then you are likely to be ineligible for compensation.
Cooperating with the CICA
As previously stated, one of the most common reasons for your case being unsuccessful is a failure to completely cooperate with the CICA. The CICA usually allow one calendar month for you to respond to requests for information and evidence relating to your case. This needs to be taken seriously. They will allow you an extension if more time is required to collect the evidence, but you must request an extension and keep them informed if delays are to be incurred. If you remain in touch with the CICA then they are unlikely to deny your claim due to a lack of cooperation.
Patience is needed as there is likely to be delays
As previously noted, claims will usually take around 12-18 months to conclude and during this time you will only hear from the CICA a few times. This is not unusual, and you should not be concerned about any delays regarding your case as they are not always bad. You are dealing with a government agency who are handling thousands of cases every year. The main advice that we would give is to get the claim started and then try to get on with your life and your recovery from the injuries you have suffered. Your claim will be decided upon in a reasonable amount of time, and if you appoint a legal representative, such as ourselves, they will keep you updated throughout the process.
What personal injuries can you claim for and how much will you be awarded
If you suffer from physical injuries as a result of violent crime, then you may have the opportunity to claim for a criminal injury award. However, only certain injuries fall under this category and the emphasis is on compensating those who have suffered from more serious injuries. Under the current CICA scheme, there will be no compensation payable for injuries such as broken nose or ribs, and many soft tissue injuries such as facial bruising, back or shoulder problems, or black eyes. Simple fractures and dislocations can be claimed for along with many other injuries including lacerations that lead to scarring of the skin. The scheme follows that more serious injuries will be subject to an award with appropriate evidence being supplied and eligibility checks. All CICA awards are currently calculated by a tariff-based system that categorises each injury with a scaled valuation, which depends on different variables. So, issues such as the severity of the injury, permanent nature of the injury, recovery period, the effect on mobility, and working capacity are all considered.
Can you claim for psychological injuries?
It is perfectly reasonable for you to assume that someone who is the victim of violent or sexual crimes may suffer from a form of psychological injury. However, criminal injury awards will only be paid in certain circumstances. Firstly, there is no current award for anxiety and depression or aggravation of underlying problems as the scheme does not allow for this. However, you can claim for disabling mental injury subject to evidence from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, is very common in victims of violent or sexual assault, but sometimes goes undiagnosed. To claim an award for PTSD which can start from around £6200 for injuries which last up to 5 years, you must have a consultant diagnosis. GP evidence is not enough to support a claim for psychological injuries.
Why are some injuries not eligible under the CICA scheme?
In 2012, a new compensation scheme was introduced by the CICA, and it resulted in several very significant cost saving changes being brought in. One change that was introduced involved reducing the valuation on the CICA tariff system for most injuries. In addition to this, the new scheme removed the right to claim for minor injuries, this was aimed at reducing the number of applicants from people who may have been involved in fights and related incidents. Minor injuries accounted for a significant proportion of the CICA budget and by bringing in strict criteria the CICA was able to save millions of pounds. Unfortunately, this came at a vast cost to thousands of innocent victims who have been denied compensation since.
Can you claim for loss of earnings from the CICA scheme?
The CICA compensation scheme allows for loss of earnings to be reclaimed, but falls subject to some very specific conditions:
- You must have little or no capacity to conduct paid work
- You must establish that you either were in paid work leading up to the application or had income from self-employed work
- The first 28 weeks of any period of loss is ignored and not eligible under the scheme
- Loss of earnings will be officially capped at the level of Statutory Sick Pay, otherwise known as SSP, which was valid at the time of your settlement
- You will need evidence from HMRC or a current/former employer to substantiate the loss of earnings
How can we help you?
We are dedicated to fighting for innocent victims of violent crimes and helping our clients receive the compensation they deserve for their ordeal. Our team of expert CICA solicitors can help you make your claim to the CICA and guide you through the processes, supporting you every step of the way. We do everything we can to make the process as easy and hassle-free as possible for you, so you can relax and focus on your recovery. If you have been the innocent victim of a violent crime or sexual assault, start your claim today by submitting your details in our form, by filling in the ‘Online Claim Form’, or contact us on 0151 203 1104.