Criminal injuries compensation is a form of compensation that can be claimed when a blameless person becomes the victim of a violent crime. This is a crime where violence is threatened or used upon that person and results in physical or mental harm.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is the government body that administrates and awards criminal injuries compensation in England, Scotland and Wales.
What is a violent crime?
To claim criminal injuries compensation, you need to have been the victim of ‘a crime of violence’. There is no legal definition of violent crime, so annex B of the 2012 amendment to the compensation scheme sets out what is and is not covered in claims of criminal injuries.
Violent crimes must be intentional or reckless and can include the following:
- A physical attack;
- Any other attack which results in a physical injury to a person;
- A threat that causes immediate fear of violence and injury;
- A sexual assault, where consent is not given;
- Arson or causing fires.
There are some exceptions to be aware of, any injuries sustained through the following are not covered by the scheme:
- Suicide or attempted suicide;
- Injuries caused by use of a vehicle;
- Animal attacks;
- During sporting activities;
- In utero if a mother deliberately tries to harm the foetus (baby);
Who can claim?
To make a claim you must meet certain eligibility criteria. These criteria usually stipulate your residency (where you live) and the timeframe in which you can claim.
To be able to claim you must be normally resident in the UK and a British citizen. You can also claim if you are not a British citizen, but you normally live in the UK and are a close relative of a British citizen. If you are from a country that is in the European Union or European Economic Area and normally live in the UK, then you are also eligible.
You can make a claim up to two years after the crime was committed. You do not have to wait for any criminal trials to be concluded before you submit your claim, if there is enough evidence to support your injuries without a conviction then your claim can be processed.
Crimes should be reported to the police as soon as reasonably possible. Without a crime being reported your claim cannot be processed. If you are unable to report a crime to the police straight away, you will need to be able to justify why this was the case. There will be reasonable allowances made for any cases where you were unable to report an incident if you were incapacitated or, were complying with other reporting procedures, say, if the crime occurred at work or in a space where another body carried out their own reporting process first.
Claiming on behalf of someone else
If you are the bereaved of a deceased loved one, or a parent or carer of someone involved in a violent crime you can still make a claim.
To claim on behalf of a child you will have to submit the same evidence as if you were claiming for yourself, but in addition you will need to prove your relationship to the child. Similar requirements apply if you are applying on behalf of someone who is unable to apply themselves. You may also be asked to submit medical evidence that explains why the individual is not able to apply themselves.
If a loved one dies as the result of a violent crime, then you may be able to make a claim. To apply to the scheme, you will have to be a ‘qualifying relative’. This is a relative who is:
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- The partner of the deceased who was living with them for a continuous period of two years before the incident;
- A spouse or civil partner, or a previous spouse or civil partner who was still financially dependent on the deceased;
- A parent or;
- A child of the deceased.
If a child is left without a parent due to a violent crime, you can apply for their payment on their behalf. This payment recognises some of the things a child loses when a parent dies. A child can receive up to £2,000 per year (pro rata for part-years) from the date of the incident up until their eighteenth birthday.
What can you claim for?
Violent crimes have long-lasting impacts on the victims, these effects often lead to mental and physical difficulties among other things. Under the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme, you can claim for any adverse effects that you suffer because of a violent crime.
This can include:
- Mental or physical injuries;
- Sexual or physical abuse;
- Loss of income because you are unable to work;
- Specific expenses arising directly from the violent crime;
- Death, bereavement, funeral costs, and dependency.
Even if your injuries are not as serious as those listed above, you may still be able to make a claim under the Hardship Fund. This fund is there to support you if you sustain an injury from a violent crime, are in low paid work and are unable to support yourself because of the injury. However, this fund can only be applied for if your injury was sustained in England or Wales.
What can be awarded?
Compensation can be awarded up to a value of £500,000. The amount you are awarded will depend on the severity of your injuries and if there are any deductions to be made because of your behaviour leading up to, during and after the incident occurred.
Things that can reduce your claim
It is important that any information that you submit to the CICA is accurate and that you are the blameless victim of a crime. If there is evidence to show that you were involved in the crime, or that you could have avoided injury, or that you did not cooperate with the authorities your claim could be rejected, or your payment reduced.
Be aware that any of the following could impact upon your claim:
- The crime was not reported to the police;
- You did not cooperate with the police, courts or CICA;
- You provoked the incident where you were injured;
- There was a history of bad blood between you and the attacker;
- You were injured in an incident that resulted from a previous one i.e. revenge;
- If you already have a criminal record, even if you are blameless.
How can I make a claim?
Claims can be made directly to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). You will have to ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and that the crime has been reported to the police. If these conditions are not met, then any payments cannot be awarded.
When applying for compensation you will need to be able to provide proof that you meet the necessary criteria. This includes; that you are resident in the UK, that you have medical reports of your injuries, and that you have reports detailing any loss of earnings. The CICA may also collect police reports of the incident, and they may confirm with the police and any witnesses that you were indeed not part of the reason that you received your injury.
It is up to you to make a case for compensation. You must be able to supply enough evidence to convince the CICA that you should be awarded compensation. It may be helpful to seek legal advice to check that you have everything necessary to put a case forward.
Getting help with your claim
You can find support and information about the scheme on the Victims’ Information website. This is a free service that is there to help you if you have been the victim of a crime.
You can also get help from a solicitor or lawyer to complete your claim. They will work with you to ensure that all necessary evidence is collected and put forward to the CICA. You do need to be aware that the costs of appointing a solicitor or lawyer cannot be met by the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme and will need to be met by you. However, there are many reputable firms who will work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so that you can have legal representation.
Injuries as the result of a crime of violence can be lifechanging and receiving support from the scheme can be a good step on the road to recovery and leading a normal life again.