Who pays compensation in a criminal injury claim?
If you are involved in an accident, you typically will claim compensation from the person who caused you injuries. Different rules apply when you are injured in a criminal attack.
If you are injured in a criminal attack you have the right to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered. The difference between a criminal injuries claim and any other type of personal injury claim lies in the person you are claiming against, that is, the offender.
Can I sue the offender?
In theory, yes you can. However, three main obstacles might stand in your way:
- The offender is unknown or cannot be found. This is quite common for certain types of street crimes, for example, a mugging.
- You cannot prove that the offender caused your injuries. To succeed in a personal injury claim, you must show on a "balance of probabilities" that the defendant caused your injuries. This is a lesser burden of proof than the one required by the Criminal Court, which requires the Crown Prosecution Service to show "beyond reasonable doubt" that the offender committed the crime. It means that you may still be able to succeed in a personal injury claim even if the offender is found not guilty.
However, the fact remains that if the police and the CPS cannot find enough evidence to take the offender to trial, then you may have a similar difficulty in proving your personal injury claim.
- The offender may not have enough money or assets to pay any compensation awarded to you.
So what's the alternative?
Recognising that it is unfair for the victims of crime to be left without compensation, the government established the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to administer a government-funded compensation scheme. CICA pays compensation to people who have been physically or psychologically injured as a result of another's crime.
The offender does not have to be convicted, or even caught or identified, before you can make a claim. CICA's only requirements are that you were unwittingly caught up in a criminal act and suffered injury as a result.
Making a claim
Claims must be reported to CICA within two years of the incident. This differs from personal injury claims which carry a three-year time limit.
CICA pay a specific amount for each injury according to a set tariff, starting at £1,000. Serious injuries attract a greater award than injuries that do not have a permanent disabling effect on your life. The maximum payout is £500,000.
Generally, you do not a solicitor to make a claim. However, the more information you can present to CICA, the stronger your case will be. An experienced criminal injuries solicitor can help you gather police and medical records in order to receive the maximum amount of compensation which will allow you to start putting your life back together.
Do I always have to claim through CICA?
No. If you can identify the offender and establish that he has sufficient funds to pay your compensation, it is possible to file a private personal injury claim. A second exception is if you are injured while at work and you employer did not take reasonable measures to protect you. In this scenario, you can make a claim against your employer.