The victims of crimes of violence who have suffered injuries are at liberty to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The latest CICA Scheme came into force on 27th November 2012 and applies to any applications made on or after this date. Different rules apply to applications made before this date.
If someone has sustained injuries that would qualify for an award of at least £1000 they will be eligible to apply to the CICA. The injury must result from an act of violence in England, Scotland or Wales, and the offender does not necessarily have to have been convicted, charged, or even traced for a claim to be made.
Applications must be made to the CICA within two years of the incident that caused the injury. In very exceptional circumstances, the CICA will be prepared to accept applications outside this time limit.
The CICA can refuse or reduce an award for a variety of reasons. These include the victim’s behaviour before, during or after the incident in which they were injured; if they have a criminal record of their own; if they have failed to co-operate with the police or the CICA; or if they delay in informing the police.
Advantages to using a solicitor
Although the victim can pursue their own claim CICA claim without employing a solicitor, there are a number of advantages in seeking representation from a solicitor, particularly in cases involving more serious/ complex injuries, some of which are listed below:
- The victim will not have to deal with day-to-day administration of their case. The solicitor will endeavour to deal with all correspondence relating to the case promptly (on the day of receipt or the next day) and so there should be no real delay in connection with the process. Furthermore, if the victim is away for any length of time, there is the potential for deadlines set by the CICA to be missed.
- A solicitor can provide proper guidance in respect of any proposed award. Despite the existence of a tariff, there are many variables and an eventual award can often exceed the amount first offered by the CICA.
- A solicitor can assist with any appeal process – this may involve attending the hearing in person. This is particularly relevant for more complex cases. Typically, the CICA will aim to respond to a claimant’s appeal application within 6 weeks. The CICA Appeal Tribunal will then confirm if a claimant’s appeal will be decided using the paperwork in the case or at a hearing.
- In the first instance, the CICA will obtain a report upon which they will base their assessment of the award. In complex cases, however, more detailed medical evidence may be required and a solicitor can facilitate this.
- Cases that are more serious will almost always require additional advice with regards to other issues such as loss of earnings, care and assistance and other expenses.
- As stated above, the CICA will only pay compensation if you meet certain criteria. They may have the power to reduce or refuse to make an award of compensation on various grounds. Specialist advice may be required regarding the prospect of overcoming refusal at first instance.
After completing and submitting the application online, your solicitor will put pressure on the CICA for an early decision as to whether or not the claim is accepted. The CICA will normally provide a standard reply acknowledging the application form and providing a reference number. This helps them to identify the case quickly when they are contacted. They will then contact the police and, if they need to, the victim’s doctor and/ or the hospital that treated them, and any other organisations or people with relevant information about the case.
The information that the CICA gather from the police will help them assess whether the victim is eligible. When they get the police report they will decide whether they can take the application further. They may need more information before they can make a decision. It should be noted that it takes a considerable period of time for the CICA to collect this information. They will work closely with the police and medical authorities to get the required information as quickly as possible. Your solicitor should ensure that there are no unreasonable delays in this process and should keep you updated in relation to the progress of the CICA’s actions. It is possible that the CICA may take a year or more to make a final decision. In more complex serious injury cases, this could be longer especially if the case involves significant loss of earnings or future medical expenses.
Wherever possible, the CICA will settle applications by offering a single payment of compensation – this is called a final award, but they can only do this if the medical condition and financial losses are clear. If there is likely to be a long delay in getting this information, and you are clearly eligible for compensation, they may be able to pay some of the money before the final award is made. This is an interim payment and will be deducted from the final award payment.
The CICA can use the information they recieve under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1988. This means that a victim can ask to see all of the personal information they have received about them.
As soon as the CICA make a decision, they will write to the victim’s solicitor to advise what that decision is. If they have reduced or refused an award, they will tell the solicitor the reasons why. The solicitor will advise the victim as soon as the decision is communicated to them and will provide their professional opinion regarding it. If the victim wishes to accept the decision, they will need to sign the CICA’s acceptance form, and this will then be returned by the solicitor to the CICA on behalf of the Claimant. Written acceptance of an award must be received within 90 days of the date of a decision. If the CICA do not get this within 90 days and the victim does not apply for a review of the decision, the CICA may withdraw the award.
If the victim disagrees with the CICA’s decision, they can ask for it to be reviewed. The solicitor will receive a review form and a guide when the CICA issue their first decision. The CICA’s representative who made the first decision will not make the review decision.
If a victim disagrees with the review decision, they can appeal to the independent Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Service. The CICA will send the solicitor an appeal form and a guide for the procedure when they issue the review decision.
Finally, the CICA will pay your award electronically into your solicitor’s client account and in turn your solicitor will forward the balance of the agreed sum after deduction of any relevant agreed legal costs which are usually based on a ‘No Win, No Fee ‘ basis.