A man has been awarded £129,600 in damages by a Government scheme which supports blameless victims of violent crime – finally compensating him for the physical and ongoing mental injuries suffered when attacked by three men in his own home eight years ago.
The man, who was 22 at the time, was left with a two-and-a-half inch gash to his face, a dislocated eye socket and in need of dental work to repair numerous damaged teeth when the men barged their way into his partner’s home in June 2011.
He only needed one night in hospital to treat his physical injuries, but the shock and trauma of the attack proved far more life-changing, leaving him ‘a shadow of himself’.
Such has been the impact on him psychologically he has been left reluctant to leave his home, locking doors and windows at all times and suffering from nightmares on almost a daily basis.
It led to him losing the job he had as a kitchen worker at the time of the attack, whilst he has also been unable to hold down long-term working positions in the eight years since the attack, as he has frequently missed long spells of work.
The man, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, initially applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) himself seeking damages for his injuries and loss but was offered compensation of just £1,500.
However, after seeking the specialist support of CICA claims specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, who appealed to a tribunal service on his behalf, he has now been awarded damages totalling £129,600.
Settlement reflects loss of earnings and physical and psychological injuries
The final settlement has taken into account not only his physical injuries, but also recognises that he suffered from psychological damage for more than five years.
It also recognises that the attack has been the cause of significant loss of earnings, as the man has not been well enough mentally to work.
“The attack changed me as a person beyond belief and I have not been the same person since that day,” he said.
“Three men suddenly burst into the house and began attacking me. My partner and her friend was also at the house at the time, and they had a baby with them, but they didn’t care.
“It seemed to go on forever but it perhaps lasted a couple of minutes, but I was just powerless to protect myself. It was frightening as for all I knew they could have killed me.
“I was only in hospital for a night and was perhaps fortunate my physical injuries were not worse, but once I returned home, I was never right.
“I’d never had any mental illness issues apart from feeling anxious every now and then before the attack, but I started to change. I’d make sure doors and windows were closed and locked. I stopped answering the telephone and I pretty much stopped leaving the house at all.
“I’d convince myself that I was choosing not to go out and that I was in control of my mental health, but it was all subconscious and it was spiralling out of control. It was then I realised that I had a serious mental health issue.”
Having being informed about the CICA by a nurse who treated him in hospital, the man initially submitted his own application direct to the scheme. He rejected an initial offer of £1,500 compensation, and then one of £5,000 after applying to review the initial decision himself.
“I just didn’t think I was being offered an amount reflective of how this attack had changed me as a person and ruined my life,” he said.
“I’d worked from leaving school in decent jobs, earned good money and even travelled to Australia for a year working there. I was an outgoing person as well and always being the person getting friends together to go out into town for some fun.
“I was a shell of that person, left struggling on benefits, but was only being offered £5,000. It was then I decided that I needed specialist help to appeal again and get the damages I deserved as I knew I couldn’t do it myself.”
Solicitors helped ensure damages were reflective of ‘huge impact on life’
Stacey Flegg, a CICA claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, took on the case through the CICA.
She said: “This was a brutal attack and one which left our client a shadow of his former self. These men carried out an arranged attack on him, completely unprovoked, and were quite rightly each jailed for it.
“He was advised to claim for damages through CICA but has found, as many do, that it is not a simple process to provide all the details required to secure a damages offer which is truly reflective of the injuries suffered and impact on life quality.
“We see far too many cases where people who make their own applications are offered damages which are simply nowhere near their true value, as sufficient enquiries are not made by the CICA to establish the full extent of the injuries suffered.
“We were pleased to be able to offer support in this case in which we outlined the true extent of psychological injuries suffered, also calculating his loss of earnings.
“This was a vital part of this claim as his mental illness was caused as a direct result of the attack on him, and it has been that which has prevented him earning at the level he would have been for eight years until now, and into the future.”
The man, now 30, is hoping the compensation will help him access the specialist psychological treatment he requires to start rebuilding his life.
He said: “I am delighted with the final settlement as it will go into a trust to draw from over time. It gives me the chance to go to a really top specialist and have treatment to hopefully overcome my fears and anxiety and hopefully get the old me back.
“People are urged to make claims direct to CICA but I know first-hand now that you need that expert knowledge of how to submit evidence and calculate losses to get the right result.
“It has been more than £100,000 difference in my case, and that money will help me month to month as I try and use it to get better, and then perhaps put it towards a deposit on a new home for me and my partner. We deserve a new start as we have had some very difficult years.”