If you have suffered an injury as a result of a violent crime against you, we can help you submit a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a Government run agency designed to compensate innocent victims who suffered physical and/or psychological injuries as a result of a violent crime.
Submitting a claim to the CICA is not the same as bringing a claim against an individual for injuries sustained, for example, in a road traffic accident. When an application is made to the CICA, they undertake the investigations. To be eligible, the applicant must have co-operated with the Police in their investigation. If the assailant has not been convicted or even caught, this does not make any difference to your application as the CICA place more importance on your co-operation with the Police. In signing the application form, you are allowing the CICA to contact the Police and your GP/hospital to obtain information about your injuries.
“You should also be aware the CICA will take into account any criminal convictions you may have had in the past.”
They will also consider your behaviour before, during and after the incident and if it may have contributed to the incident in question, they may reduce any award made or reject it altogether.
Once they have carried out their investigations, the CICA will make a decision as to whether or not to make an award. The CICA base their decision on a tariff system. There are 25 separate levels ranging from £1,000 for the least serious injury to £250,000 for the most serious. In addition, they may also take into account financial losses although there are very strict rules relating to claiming for financial loss.
If, after their initial decision, the CICA have made an award which you feel is too low or if they have rejected your application completely, you do have the option of applying to the CICA asking them to review their decision. If you remain dissatisfied after this step, you have the option of submitting an appeal.
You should be aware that there are two important differences between submitting an application to the CICA and bringing a claim against an individual for injuries sustained in, for example, a road traffic accident.
Firstly, the CICA will not pay your costs even if you are successful. This means that our costs together with the cost of disbursements (e.g. obtaining medical evidence) will be deducted from your award. We will be able to assist you on the understanding that if your application fails, we will not charge you. If you are successful, we will only charge you up to a maximum of 25% plus VAT of your award. Your costs will only become payable once your award is received.
Secondly, an application must be made within two years of the date of the incident. If the application is not made within this deadline, the CICA is unlikely to consider your application. In exceptional circumstances, it is possible to invite the CICA to waive this time limit but it is only on very rare occasions that the CICA will agree to consider an application outside the two year limitation period.
For free legal advice, contact our specialist Personal Injury team on 02392 483322 (Havant) or on 02380 631111 (Southampton). Alternatively, complete the response e-mail slip.
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[wptabtitle]Sexual abuse victims are failed by the system. [/wptabtitle]
[wptabcontent]Kier Starmer, who is the former head of public prosecutions, has written an article in The Guardian explaining why he thinks the justice system is currently failing vulnerable victims. In particular his article focuses on individuals who have suffered sexual abuse.
According to Mr Starmer there has been increasing focus on the way victims of personal abuse are treated by the system following high profile cases such as the Jimmy Saville revelations and comprehensive reports by official bodies. The most recent of these reports came last week from the HM Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) where it was published that there is huge inconsistency between the approach taken by regional police forces to rape allegations and that there has been a national drop in the number of prosecutions for rape and domestic violence.
Whilst Mr Starmer acknowledges that improvements are being made to the way victims of abuse are treated within the criminal justice system, there are several alarming issues which need to be addressed:
Data has shown that many victims have so little confidence in our justice system that they believe it is not worth even reporting abuse. When asked why they felt this way a common response was that they assumed officials would doubt their story.
The current system is reactive rather than pro-active. Mr Starmer uses Female Genital Mutilation, which was criminalised in practice in 1985, as an example. He explains that currently little girls will not receive help unless they walk into a Police station “and tell a strange adult what her mummy and daddy had allowed someone to do to her”, and that obviously the likelihood of that happening is not very high.
At present Police and prosecutors adopt a crude approach to deciding whether a victim will be believed in Court. According to Starmer they focus on inappropriate questions such as whether the crime was reported quickly, whether the victim was able to give a full and accurate account when first questioned and whether drinks / drugs are involved. Mr Starmer explains that this search for the model victim is completely counter-productive because a large percentage of people who are vulnerable to abuse have trust issues with authority and may well be dependent on alcohol and drugs.
Even when a case reaches the courtroom victims feel that they are treated with such suspicion and aggression by advocates that they vow never to repeat the experience and they would rather let a perpetrator go free than go back to court.
Vicky Wright of Swain & Co says, “All of the above demonstrates that for victims the current system is “not fit for purpose” and what is needed is a complete overhaul of the current system and a “fundamental rethink” in order to produce an effective and comprehensive ‘Victims’ Law’.” [/wptabcontent][/wptabs]