CICA Claims – What you need to know

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is an Agency of the Ministry of Justice that offers compensation to victims of violent crime. The CICA operates its own Scheme, which contains various eligibility criteria that must be met for an award of compensation to be made. Current applications are dealt with by the CICA 2012 Scheme (as amended).

Who can apply?

Generally, anyone can apply to the CICA for compensation if they have been a victim of a violent crime in England, Scotland or Wales. There are some other specific examples, such as if the crime took place on a British controlled aircraft. However, there are various other eligibility criteria that must be bet before you qualify to receive an award and a range of circumstances in which an award will be withheld.

Does there have to be a conviction?

No, it is not necessary for the person who caused the injuries to have received a criminal conviction for the injuries they caused you. However, the crime must have been reported to the Police and there must be sufficient evidence available to confirm that you were a victim of a crime of violence. This means that although there does not need to be a conviction, simply reporting the crime to the Police is not always enough. It will depend on the evidence available and the reasons why the criminal case was not taken any further.

Will the offender be involved in the claim?

No, the person who committed the crime against you will have no involvement in a CICA claim whatsoever. The claim is made to the CICA directly, who will contact the Police and at times other organisations to obtain information to assist them in determining the application. Any award made comes from the CICA directly. This is different to any compensation that may have been awarded by the criminal Court.

Is there a time limit?

Yes, there are strict time limits that apply. You will need to have submitted your application to the CICA within 2 years of the date of the incident. If you were a child when the offences took place and the crime was reported to the Police before your 18th birthday, you will have until your 20th birthday to submit the application. If you were a child when the offences took place but the offences were not reported to the Police until you were an adult, the application must be submitted within 2 years of the date upon which you first reported the matter to the Police.

What if my claim is out of time and I have not yet submitted an application?

It is possible in exceptional circumstances for the time limit to be extended. For example, where the Police have asked you not to apply for compensation until after the criminal trial has concluded but this has taken longer than 2 years. You would have a good argument for the CICA to extend the time limit. The CICA may also be willing to extend the time limit if you have been unable to apply sooner because a mental or physical illness has prevented you from doing so. Medical evidence will need to be supplied to the CICA to confirm this.

Unfortunately, not knowing that the Scheme exists is not a valid reason the CICA will accept for a claim to be submitted out of time. If you think you have a claim and believe the time limit may have expired, you should take action as quickly as possible as the longer the delay the more difficult it can be to overcome.

Why might the CICA refuse to make an award?

Due to the strict eligibility criteria set out in the 2012 Scheme, there are a range of reasons why the CICA may refuse your application for compensation. Some of the common reasons are:

  • The claim was submitted out of time without good evidence to persuade the CICA to extend the time limit.
  • The offence was not reported to the Police.
  • The applicant did not fully cooperate with the Police in bringing the assailant to justice.
  • There are issues surrounding the applicant’s conduct at the time of the offence.
  • The applicant has an unspent conviction which resulted in either a custodial sentence or a community order.
  • There is insufficient evidence the applicant was a victim of a crime of violence as defined in the CICA Scheme.

What injuries can I receive compensation for?

The CICA Scheme can award compensation for both physical and mental injuries, as well as sexual abuse and domestic violence. They will only award compensation for injuries listed within the Scheme, which includes the most serious of injuries. More minor injuries such as bruising, a broken nose or lacerations that do no result if significant scarring will not qualify for an award under the Scheme.

What else can I claim under the Scheme?

As well as compensation for your injuries, you can also recover an award for lost earnings and some limited special expenses under the Scheme if you meet the relevant criteria. You must have been working at the time of the incident or have a good reason for not being in work. For example, if you were a child or in education when the criminal offence took place. Evidence must show that you are unable to work, or have very limited capacity for paid work, as a result of your injuries sustained.

An award for lost earnings will only be made for a period you are unable to work after the first 28 weeks and is paid at the current rate of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This means that if you were off work for less than 28 weeks, you will not qualify for an award for lost earnings.

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How long does it take?

There is no set timescale within which the CICA has to respond to an application. The timescales therefore can vary significantly. If your claim is very straightforward and you want the CICA to make the decision based on information from the Police only without considering any medical evidence, they aim to issue a decision within 8 weeks. In claims where medical evidence is required or which are complex and high value, it is likely to take years rather than months.

Should I accept the CICA's first decision?

This all depends on whether the first decision is the right decision for your claim. As the CICA Scheme is so prescriptive, it is not the case that it is always worth going back to them to see if you can get a bit more compensation. It is only worth applying for a review of the decision if you think the CICA have made a mistake, or if the evidence shows that you are entitled to a higher award than that offered in the first instance. It often takes several months or more for the CICA to deal with a review application, so you need to be sure it is worthwhile. It is possible for the CICA to reach a more favourable decision, the same decision or even a less favourable decision on review.

What if I am not happy with the CICA's first decision?

If you do not believe the CICA’s first decision is correct, you are able to challenge it. You can challenge a first instance decision by submitting an application for a review of that decision within 56 days of the date on the decision letter you have received. Your application will then be looked at by a different claims officer within the CICA.

If you receive a review decision and you remain unhappy with the outcome, it is possible to submit an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal. The Tribunal may ask you, the CICA or both parties to gather additional evidence. The matter will be listed for a final determination, which is likely to be a hearing which could take place in person or over the telephone. A panel will consider the evidence and issue a decision. The Tribunal’s decision is generally considered final.

If the issue before the Tribunal was to determine whether you are entitled to compensation at all, as opposed to determining how much you should get, if you are successful the matter will be passed back for the CICA for them to issue a decision regarding how much compensation you should receive. This will be subject to the same rights to review and appeal the decision.

Do I need a lawyer to apply to the CICA?

No, it is not necessary to have legal representation to make a CICA claim. You can apply yourself and deal with the CICA directly. In many straightforward cases, we will suggest you apply yourself rather than instructing our team to assist. However, there are some circumstances in which you may feel it is beneficial for you to take independent legal advice and have representation for the claim. This can be helpful if your claim is potentially complex or high value, where expert input from one of our team can ensure the right evidence is obtained to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.

For example, I have been involved in cases where the CICA originally offered an award of £16,500. With my input, my client in fact received £181,000. In another example, the initial decision from the CICA was to award £22,000. With my assistance, the award was increased to over £200,000.

How much does it cost if I instruct a lawyer?

Our team will generally act on your behalf on a no win no fee basis. Other funding options may be available. It is not possible to recover legal costs from the CICA, so the claim would be funded on a Contingency Fee Basis. This means that if you are not successful, you will not need to pay our charges. If your claim is successful, you will pay 25% of your award (inclusive of VAT) to us in payment of our costs for the work undertaken on your behalf.

Serious injury claim experts

Our personal injury team have helped many people who were injured by an accident that wasn’t their fault to claim for compensation. Contact us today to find out how they can help you.

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