Hudgell Solicitors’ specialist criminal injuries team has secured damages for an elderly woman who suffered a fractured pelvis when robbed of her handbag at a bus stop – despite her attacker not being convicted of the offence.
The 79-year-old woman, of Loughton, Essex, had been waiting for a bus at 9am in the morning when her attacker suddenly grabbed her handbag and pulled it from her grasp.
In the tussle, as the woman tried to hold on to her bag, she was pulled to the floor, suffering the break to her pelvis which left her in hospital for two months.
Now, following a legal claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which was handled for her by Hudgell Solicitors, she has received a damages settlement of £2,400.
The woman’s daughter, who has asked that her mother not be named, said: “My mum was determined to remain independent and get about on her own after my father died six years ago, so she often went and caught the bus to go to the hairdressers.
“On this morning she was spoken to by a young man who was at the bus stop. He initially seemed friendly but was suddenly in her face aggressively and pulling at her bag.
“My mum tried to hold on to it but as he pulled it from her she fell to the floor and that is how she suffered the break to her pelvis. He then ran off and got into a car which sped away.”
The attack was witnessed by passers-by, some who gave chase and others who came to aid of the elderly woman and called an ambulance.
However, despite police believing they knew the person responsible from the woman’s description, believing it to have been a local drug user often in trouble, the victim was unable to confidently identify him from pictures given to her whilst she was still in hospital.
“My mum was worried about getting it wrong and didn’t want to identify anybody incorrectly, so in the end there was no conviction relating to the attack on her,” her daughter explained.
“However, a policewoman told me that I should look to make a claim on her behalf as a victim of crime and it was that point I looked at the legal route.”
The woman’s daughter says her mother chose to split her compensation settlement three ways between herself and her two daughters, as they supported her in the months after her injury, and continue to do so today.
“Myself and my sister had to take quite a bit of time off work to visit mum in hospital, and then to have her living with us when she was discharged, so something like this does have an impact on more people than the person attacked,” she said.
“My mum’s keys were taken from her bag along with her credit cards and cash, so we had to have new locks fitted on our doors, whilst we have also had new bannisters fitted at mum’s house as she is not quite as steady on her feet.
“It was nice of her to share her compensation. Initially she was of the mind that she was not going to let it affect her at all, but it has.
“She has struggled of late and is not as confident. She is much more worried about going out and falling given her injury, so it has had a long-term impact.”
CICA claims specialists able to pursue damages despite no conviction
Michelle Nurse, a specialists in handling CICA claim at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “It is pleasing that our client was advised to pursue a CICA claim by police officers who investigated the case, as this often does not happen.
“The scheme is in place to ensure innocent victims of crime are helped to get their lives back on track after suffering an assault or abuse.
“A key message we try to spread is that on occasions, even if the perpetrator is not identified, caught, or convicted, settlements can still be secured where it is clear an attack or abuse has taken place, and that it has had an impact on the victim.
“We know that making a compensation claim for criminal injuries can sometimes seem daunting, especially for elderly victims of crimes, and that is why we provide support right from making an initial application to handling settlement offers, working closely with the CICA to reach a suitable damages settlement.
“In this case we had successfully applied to the CICA, received a damages offer and settled within seven months, despite the lack of conviction.”