A Half Century of Criminal Injuries Compensation
2014 hails as the 50th anniversary of the introduction of a scheme to provide compensation for the innocent victims of violent crime. This will be either the victim themselves, or their family where the crime resulted in a fatal injury.
Up until 1996 the scheme was administered in such a way as to compensate victims on the same basis as any other claim for injury compensation. Since then the scheme has changed to provide for a “tariff” valuation for injuries suffered (ie a fixed amount of compensation depending upon the type of injury) and to severely limit the types of out of pocket expenses that can be claimed. Under the tariff scheme a maximum amount of £250,000 can be awarded for injury and a limit of £500,000 applies to any one claim.
The scheme is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) who are a body established by Parliament to evaluate the merits of any claim. The CICA employ some 300 staff and during the year 2013/14 received some 36,695 new cases. The total annual spend is around £200m on compensation for victims of crime.
There are a number of eligibility factors that must be met before any award will be made. These are best considered by looking at the main reasons why cases were unsuccessful. In terms of numbers of cases affected the main reason claims are refused are:-
- The injuries have to be “severe enough” to merit an award. In other words there is an exclusion for minor injuries. In 2013/14 some 8400 cases were rejected on this ground alone. This was by far the singular most significant reason for an application being rejected.
- Applicants are expected to cooperate. This is not just with the CICA in bringing the claim, but also with the police to bring about a prosecution of any offender. In 2013/14 a total of 2400 cases were rejected for not cooperating with the CICA and a further 2800 for not cooperating with the police.
- The Applicants criminal record. Basically, the scheme is not there to reward criminals. Where the applicant has unspent criminal convictions then the award may be reduced, or if the convictions are serious enough it will be refused altogether. In 2013/14 a total of 4600 cases were rejected for this reason alone.
- The Applicants conduct. The conduct referred to can be either before, during or after the event that gave rise to the application. If the Applicant suffered injury through voluntarily participating in some criminal activity then an award may be denied or reduced. Further, if the Applicant is subsequently convicted of a criminal offence that may result in refusal of an award. In 2013/14 some 2500 applications were refused on the grounds of the Applicants “bad character.”
- Moreover, in 2013/14 some 2900 applications were dismissed as the injury “did not result from a crime of violence.” Presumably this means that medical evidence did not support the claim.
- Just over 1000 cases in 2013/14 were refused as they were submitted too late. The scheme provides that claims should be made as soon as possible and in any event within 2 years of the incident that gave rise to the claim (where the applicant is under the age of 18 when the incident occurred there are extensions being to age 20 or if reported after the age of 18 then 2 years from date of reporting to the police). A claim can still be lodged out of time, but only where there are “exceptional circumstances” and excessive enquiry by the CICA is not required.
The above is not an exhaustive list of the exceptions to the scheme, but these were statistically the most significant reasons for why applications for criminal injuries compensation failed in the 2013/14 year.
Having overcome the eligibility criteria the CICA assesses the level of tariff award for the injuries themselves.
Unlike in a conventional injury action where specific independent medical evidence is obtained, this is frequently done by either obtaining the Applicants medical records and/or a letter from the Applicants doctor.
The CICA then seeks to “pigeon hole” the injuries ie the case worker seeks to assess what injury or injuries have been suffered and where do these fit in with the published tariffs. A maximum of 3 injuries are compensated.
The Applicant will receive a full award for the highest tariff value injury; 30% award added for the second highest and 15% for the third highest. This total award is subject to a maximum payment of £250,000.
Loss of earnings (both past and future) may also be paid in addition to a “tariff award” for injury. However, unlike in a conventional injury claim, this is only from the 29th week of incapacity onwards and there are other eligibility criteria that do not apply to other injury claims.
Other types of loss can also be claimed. These are called “special payments.” However, again there are stringent conditions that apply.
The most significant condition is that the Applicant must have been incapacitated for in excess of 28 weeks. Again, you have to contrast with conventional injury claims where such stringent eligibility criteria do not apply.
In the case of a fatal injury a bereavement award is given. In addition the Applicant can recover a contribution towards funeral expenses (normally no more than £2500) and in suitable cases dependants can claim a dependency award
Although the tariff scheme and strict limits for claiming loss of earnings and special payments mean that the CICA scheme is generally less generous than bringing a conventional injury claim, there is one plus side to the scheme.
With any other type of injury claim, once you have settled you cannot seek further compensation in the future should your condition worsen or worse still the injuries lead to death. However, the CICA scheme provides that should the Applicants condition deteriorate then they can in certain circumstances re-open the case.
Here at Optimal Claim, we are committed to recovering the optimal level of damages for all our clients. We know what factors will be taken into account in CICA cases and because we speak your language we know how best to present your case.
Claiming through Optimal Claim carries a genuine “no-win, no-fee” guarantee. Should you lose your claim then we do not charge. Moreover, we are more than happy to discuss prospective cases with you free of charge and without any obligation.