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A brief guide to the changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

Until November 26th 2012, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awarded compensation to between 30,000 and 40,000 people each year who were seriously injured or affected by a violent crime and who couldn’t obtain recompense from any other source such as their assailant.

But politicians controversially approved a revised scheme which will cut or axe altogether the financial support given to nearly 90% of the victims of violent crime.

Changes will be implemented under the new scheme will include:

UK Residency

Compensation will only be awarded to claimants who have legally resided in the UK for at least six months before the time of the alleged incident. All nationals of the EU and EEA Member States and their families in the UK will be exempt from this rule.

Reporting A Crime

The new Scheme will clarify and strengthen ‘reporting’ provisions – requiring an offence to be reported to the police ‘as soon as reasonably practicable.’ These rules won’t apply in cases where trauma caused by a sexual offence results in a delay in reporting the incident to the police.

Applicants Under 18

Previous rules allowing for an award to be withheld in the best interests of a child under 18 will be changed so child victims can now benefit from awards which might assist them in later life. Awards can be placed in trust.

Drugs And Alcohol

Drug and alcohol use will now only be considered as grounds for reducing or withholding an award where it has contributed to the injury or its effects. Payments will no longer be withheld or reduced simply because alcohol or drugs increased an applicant’s vulnerability to attack. This will benefit rape victims as it won’t matter if they had been drinking alcohol or had taken drugs at the time of the offence.

Previous Convictions

Applicants with any unspent convictions will now be excluded from claiming under the Scheme – significantly decreasing the number of applicants qualifying for compensation.  However, in very limited circumstances it may be possible still to receive an award under the Scheme. This award would ultimately suffer a reduction under the Scheme dependent on the severity of the offence and punishment (sentence) given by the courts.

Character Issues In Fatal Cases

Previously, any previous convictions of both the applicant and deceased were considered. Under the new scheme, convictions relating to the deceased won’t be relevant except where the deceased’s convictions are so serious that to pay for their funeral, or to make payments in fatal cases would be considered inappropriate – e.g. if they were subject to a life sentence or had committed serious sexual offences against children.

Injuries

Awards for less serious injuries and multiple minor injuries will no longer be considered for example:

  • Burns (minor disfigurement)
  • Scarring (minor visible disfigurement)
  • Minor cuts and bruises
  • Multiple Injuries

Multiple injuries were previously compensated for using the following formula – the highest ‘rated’ injury was awarded in full, the second injury was awarded 30% and the third injury was awarded 15%. However, where a person suffered a physical and a mental injury and the amount for the physical injury was higher, there was no award for the mental injury.

Under the new Scheme, this rule will be amended to apply the multiple injury formula in cases where both physical and mental injuries are sufficiently serious.

Loss Of Earnings

Loss of earnings will no longer place applicants in the position they were in before the injuries occurred – applicants will be compensated at the rate of statutory sick pay.

Funeral Expenses

The new Scheme will continue to make payments for reasonable funeral costs to the person paying the bill as well as to the estate.

Decision Timeframes

Applicants previously had 90 days in which to either accept or refuse awards. This will change to 56 days under the new scheme – with a provision for a further extension of 56 days under exceptional circumstances.

Medical Re-Openings

Cases could previously be re-opened on medical grounds at the applicant’s request if there was a material change in their medical condition or if the victim died as a consequence of their injury. This provision will be removed under the new Scheme.

Deferrals

The new Scheme allows decisions on a case to be deferred for an initial period of two years – with a further period of up to two years on request – if applicants believe the long-term impact of their injuries hasn’t yet been established.

Appeals

Under the new Scheme, if it becomes apparent that a claims officer has made an error on review, another claims officer will be able to withdraw the review decision under appeal and issue a decision in the applicant’s favour.

Lawyers like Neil Hudgell Solicitors are “no-win, no-fee” so clients don’t pay for advice until and unless their claim is successful. The company has already successfully overturned rejected compensation claims for a number of clients.

For more information, visit www.cica-criminal-injuries.co.uk

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