If you are unable, or don’t wish, to pursue a civil claim against the person or organisation responsible for your injuries, you can apply for compensation through the CICA instead. The CICA will assess all applications and award compensation to successful applicants under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.
Often, survivors of abuse will make an application to the CICA when a civil claim is not possible because the person who abused them does not have sufficient assets or money to pay compensation, or where the person who abused them is no longer alive.
We can help you through the application process, ensuring you meet the criteria to successfully apply for compensation through the CICA. Our experienced solicitors usually work on a no-win, no-fee basis, and we will assess your claim for free. Contact us now.
What does the CICA do?
The CICA pays out compensation to victims of violent or sexual crime, ranging from £1,000 to £500,000. The CICA will consider claims for:
- Mental and physical injury caused by a crime of violence
- Sexual or physical abuse
- Loss of earnings due to the abuse/assault suffered
- Special expenses payments: if a person has been unable to work for more than 28 weeks due to the incident
- A fatality caused by a crime of violence, such as funeral payments
The organisation handles up to 40,000 applications each year and pays out up to £200m in compensation annually.
How does a CICA claim differ from a civil claim?
Usually a CICA claim will result in less compensation than that awarded through a civil personal injury claim, as it a Government scheme. However, it offers compensation to victims in those cases when the person who committed the abuse is not in a position to pay out a large sum of money.
It is possible to apply for compensation under the CICA 2012 Scheme and also pursue a civil claim for compensation; however, should you be awarded damages in both claims you will be required to return the CICA payment.
Making a CICA claim
Compensation from the CICA is intended to be a last resort, and it is expected that the applicant will have considered securing compensation via other methods, such as insurance payments or a civil compensation claim. Our specialist solicitors provide free assessment and advice to our clients about the options for obtaining compensation.
For a claim to succeed:
- Injuries must be serious enough to adhere to CICA’s injury tariff and must meet the £1,000 minimum requirement
- The abuse must have been reported to the police and you must have co-operated with the police investigation
- The applicant must be able to prove they have applied for all benefits they are entitled to, such as compensation from the abuser, before applying
- The application must be made within two years of the abuse/assault or two years from the date when the abuse was first reported to the police. This can obviously be difficult in child abuse cases but it is still possible in some circumstances to claim compensation if you are outside the time limit (see below)
- Evidence must be provided of what happened, including medical evidence in some cases
Can an adult claim on behalf of a child?
Yes, the parent or a person holding parental responsibility can claim on behalf of the child. Evidence of the relationship to the child will have to be provided.
How much compensation might I receive?
The CICA pays out compensation of between £1,000 and £500,000. The amount you receive will depend on the injury tariff set out by the CICA.
There are, however, limitations on how much money you will receive, particularly if you have more than one injury, or if you have suffered a mental illness as a result of the abuse.
If you are suffering from a mental illness as a result of sexual abuse, the CICA will pay one tariff amount of compensation based on the assault or the mental illness, whichever has the highest value. This is because, in some cases, the CICA combines the mental trauma into the payment given for sexual assault.
The Scheme can only pay out for a maximum of three injuries. In the case where you have two or more serious injuries, you may qualify for:
- 100% of the full tariff of the most serious injury; and
- 30% of the tariff amount for the injury with an equal or second highest value; plus
- 15% if the tariff for any additional injury with an equal or third highest value
Special amounts are reserved for survivors of abuse who fell pregnant as a result of the abuse, or who lost a baby, or contracted a sexually transmitted infection.
What if I didn’t report the abuse to police soon after it happened?
You will need to have reported the abuse to police to apply for compensation from the CICA. In most cases, the CICA expects those applying for compensation to have reported the abuse to police immediately; however, this isn’t always possible in child abuse cases.
Many children will keep the abuse secret for years even after the period of abuse has ended out of fear and, for many, they are only able to disclose the abuse many years later and when they are adults.
The CICA recognises this, and has special provisions in respect of the time limit for survivors of child abuse. The deadlines for reporting child abuse are:
- If the abuse was reported to the police before you turned 18 and no-one made a claim for you, you have until your 20th birthday to apply for compensation
- If the abuse took place before you were 18 and you reported the abuse to the police after you turned 18, you have two years from notifying the police to make your application
However, if you are outside this time limit, it is possible to apply for an extension:
- If there were exceptional circumstances which prevented you making your application earlier; and
- Provided the CICA can assess your application without having to make further extensive enquiries
What evidence do I need to provide?
Evidence you may be asked to provide:
- Medical evidence which details the injury you suffered
- Confirmation from the police that you have reported the abuse
- Confirmation that you co-operated with the police
- If you are claiming for loss of earnings, you will need to provide proof to support the claim, such as pay slips or a tax return
- If you are claiming for a child, evidence of your parental relationship with them
You may be asked to provide a medical certificate, which can cost £50. The CICA provides support for the cost if you are unable to meet it because you are on a low income or benefits.
The CICA may ask for further information if your injuries are complex, or if you are claiming for a mental illness. In these cases, your doctor will be contacted to provide a report, or you may be asked to see another expert or psychiatrist to assess your health.
The CICA can reduce a payment in part, or decline to make a payment entirely, on the basis of the applicant’s character. For example, if the applicant has a criminal record, has been involved with illegal drugs or crime, been subject to an antisocial behaviour order, caution or reprimand, or engaged in tax evasion or benefit fraud. However, The CICA will ignore any spent convictions.
The next steps
Once the CICA has received a completed application form, the applicant will be asked to sign a consent form which will allow the CICA to assess the evidence given to police, access any criminal record and obtain medical evidence.
As every case is different, each will take a different length of time to complete. Many straightforward cases will conclude within 12 months, however complex cases can take several years. In some cases, the CICA will delay completing the claim until the survivor has fully recovered from the injury.
If compensation is awarded, the applicant will be informed in writing and will need to complete an acceptance form.
If the applicant disagrees with the decision reached by the CICA, it is possible to ask for it to be reviewed with any additional evidence.
If it is deemed that the assailant may benefit from the claim, compensation will not be paid directly to the victim. The CICA may set up a trust, of which the victim will be the beneficiary. And if the applicant is under the age of 18 when the payment is made it will be put into an interest earning deposit account which can be accessed when the claimant turns 18.
Compensation from the CICA can be easier to obtain but is often less than would be received in a civil claim for damages. If at a later date a civil claim is also successful, then normally any payment received from the CICA must be repaid.
If the application is turned down
It is possible to ask for a review of the CICA’s decision and also possible to appeal the review decision. Decision notices will provide a clear time limit in which to request a review or appeal. Often the time limit is 90 days. Please contact Bolt Burdon Kemp for free advice on making an initial application, or help with requesting a review or appealing a decision where an application has been turned down or you haven’t been offered enough compensation.