If you have been injured as a result of a physical or sexual assault in the UK you may be eligible to claim for criminal injuries compensation through a government run scheme. The scheme is operated by an agency known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
During the calendar year 2018/2019 the CICA refused more than 20,000 claims. This is a huge figure and assuming most victims were genuine individuals, it cannot be right that they were all ineligible for compensation. Below we discuss some ways you can avoid making crucial mistakes during your application.
One of the golden rules of the criminal compensation scheme is that you must always cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the CICA. This means you cannot delay when they request certain information or documents. Generally they will allow only 28 days for a response. A reminder will be sent and if you fail to reply or make a request for more time, they have the scope to refuse your claim.
TOP TIP: Always communicate with the CICA. If you are struggling to provide a document such as a GP letter or ID item, let them know and request more time. They will always grant this but what they will not do is allow you to delay without telling them why you cannot deliver the required information.
This issue is very controversial. The CICA can refuse your compensation if you have refused to help the police in bringing the offender to justice. This can be as a result of a failure to provide a statement or turn up at court.
This remains a controversial area in cases of domestic abuse or sexual assault where victims very often are petrified to give evidence. The application of this criteria is strict, you should help the police as much as you can to avoid falling foul of this rule.
If you have a criminal record or “live” criminal convictions at the time of the application to the CICA, your claim may be refused or compensation significantly reduced by way of a penalty. Not all convictions are the same and some penalties are lighter than others. But if you have a criminal record it is strongly advised that you seek a legal opinion on your circumstances before you claim.
TOP TIP: Try to get hold of your criminal record before you claim. Check whether any convictions are still live/unspent. Find out and double-check before you submit your claim. It is too late once the case is in the system.
The deadlines for claiming under the CICA scheme are generally 2 years on from the incident or from when you reported same to the police (n the case of a sexual assault or abuse case). Some exceptions apply but the deadline rule again is strict – more reading on deadlines here.
The CICA refuse more than 20,000 claims a year but they do not always make the right decision nor are they always fair in their application of the rules. In fact they are prone to mistakes and misinterpretation of their own rules. If you feel that your case has been poorly adjudicated – feel free to challenge it by making a Review request of a formal Tribunal Appeal.
TOP TIP: Be aware of Review deadlines. You have 56 days from the time of the “initial decision” to make a review request. If you have received a “final decision” then an Appeal is the only option left open to you and this must be lodged within 3 months of the CICA decision letter.
News: Operation Tendersea – victim compensation now available to those involved.