The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government scheme, set up to compensate blameless victims of violent crime and has been in place since 1964. This scheme has been revised a number of times, most recently in November 2012. The CICA offers compensation to those that have suffered injuries which are directly attributable to a crime of violence.
Compensable injuries can be physical or psychological, and applicants need to meet a number of criteria set out by the CICA before an award of compensation will be made, which are as follows:
- The incident needs to have been reported to the Police, as soon as reasonably practicable. If there is any delay in reporting the incident to the Police, the applicant needs to demonstrate why they have not reported this immediately. As a general rule (but not always), the CICA consider that mental incapacity and the age of the applicant (i.e. if the victim is aged under 18) are the only reasonable delays in the incident being reported.
- In addition to this, the applicant needs to have co-operated fully with the Police in bringing their assailant to justice. However, if an assailant is not identified or convicted but the victim has co-operated fully with the Police, the lack of identification or conviction will not have any negative impact on an application for compensation.
- The victim needs to have sought medical attention for the injuries they have sustained. This is especially important for those who are claiming for psychological injury. If no medical attention has been sought, then the CICA cannot verify the injuries sustained and therefore no award will be made.
- The CICA also take into account any unspent convictions an applicant may have when determining if compensation should be awarded. If an applicant has served any community service, or a custodial sentence, for a conviction which is not yet spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 then the CICA will refuse an application for compensation. However, recent changes to rehabilitation periods have been brought under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 may mean that those applicants who may not have been able to apply due to previous convictions may now be eligible for compensation.
Applications to the CICA must be made within two years of the incident in question. The time limit may be extended in exceptional circumstances but is treated very strictly. It is therefore advisable to bring a claim as soon as possible after the incident has occurred, as claims of this type can be quite lengthy. Under the revised November 2012 scheme, there are slightly different rules in the case of applicants who are children, or who were children when they were injured. These are as follows:
- Where the child was under 18 on the date of the incident, and the incident was reported to the police before their 18th birthday, limitation would expire on that persons 20th birthday.
- Where an incident is not reported until on or after the applicant’s 18th birthday, then the limitation period will run until two years after the date when the incident was first reported to the police.
- In abuse cases, if the abuse wasn’t reported to the police before the applicant’s 18th birthday then the limitation will run from the date it was reported to the police.
An applicant must also meet residency criteria, which means that the applicant must either be ordinarily resident in the UK, or a British or EU citizen. Any applicants who do not fall within the residency criteria can still apply for compensation, however their application will not be investigated until their residency status is determined.
Once the CICA are satisfied that an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they will begin to investigate the claim and obtain supporting evidence from the Police and medical practitioners. The Police evidence is obtained to confirm that:
- the incident was reported;
- that a criminal injury has occurred;
- that the applicant has co-operated fully with the Police, and;
- that the applicant did not contribute to the incident in which he or she was injured
The CICA will then obtain medical evidence to verify and assess the extent of the injury sustained. If the injury sustained falls within the Tariff set out by the Scheme, then an award of compensation will be made.
An award will be made for the injuries sustained; however additional awards can also be made for loss of earnings or earning capacity, and ‘special expenses’. Special expenses can include damage to personal property, certain medical expenses, adaptations to accommodation and costs of personal care and support where necessary.
The CICA may, on a number of grounds, reduce an award or refuse an application entirely. An application is likely to be refused or reduced for one of the following reasons:
- Your own behaviour before, during or after the incident in which you were injured;
- Your criminal record.
- Your failure to co-operate with the police or the CICA.
- Your delay in informing the police.
The type of injuries that are claimable under the CICA scheme and for which Express Solicitors can help you with are:
- Injuries (both physical and psychological) to the victim;
- A loved one dying as a result of a violent crime;
- Loss of earnings;
- Being a victim of a sexual offence;
- Special expenses (for example treatments not covered by the NHS and the cost of care)
If you satisfy the criteria for an award of compensation under the CICA Scheme 2012, the amount of compensation you receive will be assessed from a set tariff of awards available, depending on the type of injuries you have sustained, for example:
- Fractured jaw – £1,500
- Detached retina – £3,500
- Strained neck or whiplash injury lasting for more than 13 weeks – £1,000
- Fractured skull requiring an operation – £4,600
- Loss of a front tooth – £1,500
- Significant scarring to the face – £1,500
Once the CICA have reached a decision, whether it is to make an award or refuse an application, every applicant has a period of 56 days in which to consider the decision. An applicant can apply for an internal review of the decision if they are not happy with the CICA’s response, however they must be able to provide further evidence as to why the CICA should revise their decision. An applicant can also appeal the review decision, by way of an application to the First-Tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation). However, making applications to appeal the CICA’s decision does not necessarily guarantee a more favourable outcome.
If you think you have been the victim of a violent crime, and wish to discuss making an application to the CICA, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 904 4660.