Claiming Criminal Injuries Compensation

This is not a complete guide to claiming Criminal Injuries Compensation but it may answer some of your questions. Contact your local branch of Victim Support if you would like further help with claiming.

Can I apply for compensation?

If you have been injured because of a violent crime, you can apply. If you are the relative of a person who died because of their injuries, then you may be able to apply for compensation. [There is more information for relatives of victims who have died below].

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What is a violent crime?

The rules of the compensation scheme do not explain what is meant by a 'violent crime'. Violent crime usually involves a physical attack, for example, assaults and sexual offences. It can also include arson, poisoning or, in some circumstances, the threat of violence. As far as Criminal Injuries Compensation is concerned, it doesn't usually include injuries resulting from road traffic incidents. The only exception is where the vehicle is used as a weapon, for example, where the driver deliberately drove into you to hurt you.

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Does the offender need to be caught?

No - the offender does not have to be traced or prosecuted for you to claim compensation. But the rules do require you to report the crime to the police as soon as possible and to co-operate fully with the police and any criminal prosecution.

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What injuries will be compensated?

Injuries can be physical and/or mental. Mental injury is defined as a recognised psychiatric or psychological illness. Compensation for mental injury alone is only awarded in a limited set of circumstances.

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Does it matter which country I was injured in?

Yes. You can be compensated for criminal injuries suffered in England, Scotland and Wales, even if you were only visiting at the time of the incident. Injuries suffered elsewhere, for example while on holiday abroad, are not covered but there may be a similar compensation scheme in the country concerned. Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and Jersey each have a criminal injuries compensation scheme. New measures are to be introduced across EU member countries in the next few years.

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Is there a time limit on making an application?

Yes. You must apply within two years of the crime of violence which caused the injuries. Applications outside the time limit will only be considered if the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which decides on claims, considers that there is a good reason for the delay and that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

The CICA may be able to make an exception if you were injured as a child, or your English is poor, or if you have a learning disability. They may also consider an out-of-time application, if the injuries only became obvious some time after the incident which caused them, provided that you apply as soon as possible after discovering the cause, and that the details of the incident can be checked by the CICA.

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How is the compensation calculated?

Physical and mental injuries

Physical and/or mental injuries are graded according to their seriousness. Relatively minor injuries, such as scratches or bruises, alone will not qualify for an award but if you have a combination of minor injuries which cause at least two visits to a doctor for treatment, and recovery takes at least six weeks, then you may qualify.

Compensation for loss of earnings

In addition to compensation for mental and/or physical injuries, if your injuries mean that you lose earnings, or can't work, for more than 28 weeks, then you may be able to claim compensation for this. The compensation scheme does not give compensation for the first 28 full weeks of lost earnings or earning ability.

Compensation for special expenses

If you have lost earnings or been unable to work for more than 28 weeks from the date of your injury, you may be able to claim compensation for any medical, dental or optical treatment, equipment or care you have had to pay for.

If your circumstances change after you have completed the application form, and you lose further earnings or have other special expenses you didn't include, you can write to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, providing details, to ask for more compensation to cover the loss.

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What if you have suffered more than one injury?

Different amounts of money are allowed for different injuries. If you received more than one injury as a result of a crime of violence, the compensation will include the full amount allowed for the most serious injury, 30% of the amount allowed for the second most serious injury and 15% of the amount allowed for the third most serious injury.

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What about the relatives of victims who have died as a result of their criminal injuries?

If you are the relative of someone who has died as a result of injury, you may be able to apply for a 'fatal injury' award.

If you depended financially on the person who died, you may also be able to claim a 'dependency award'.

Children under the age of 18 can claim an award for what is called 'loss of parental services'.

Anyone who has paid for the funeral of the victim can claim back reasonable funeral expenses.

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Which relatives of a victim who died as a result of their injuries can apply for compensation?

Only certain relatives can apply. These are:

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Can the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority withhold or reduce a compensation award when someone who is eligible to apply?

Yes. Compensation may be reduced or withheld if:

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Can they reduce the compensation, or refuse to pay compensation, in fatal cases?

Yes. In cases where the victim has died, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority can reduce the compensation or no compensation at all if you (the victim's relative) or the person who died behaved in a particular way; for example, if the victim provoked the fight which resulted in their being killed.

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How is the claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation handled?

When the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority receives your application, they will usually ask for information from the police, medical authorities and other organisations. When they have the information they need and have considered your claim, they will decide whether you are entitled to receive compensation and, if so, how much. This can take a number of months and, sometimes, years.

If you disagree with their decision, you can apply for a review. You will be sent information about applying for a review with the letter telling you the decision about your application. Your local branch of Victim Support can discuss this with you or refer you on to someone who can help you.

The review will be carried out by more senior caseworkers than the initial decision-makers and they will look at your claim afresh. It is worth bearing in mind that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority can reduce or withhold money following a review, as well as making or increasing the award.

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Can compensation affect my benefits?

If you receive social security benefits, they may be affected if you receive compensation. If your award brings you over the upper capital limit for some benefits, your benefits may be stopped completely and you will have to live off the compensation until the money drops below the limit.

The current capital limits for means-tested benefits are given on the Department for Work and Pensions website. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also advise you about benefits.

Victim Support thinks that it is unfair that compensation awards are taken into account when your benefit is being worked out. We have tried to persuade the Secretary of State for Social Security to change the law so that compensation paid to victims of crime is disregarded when your capital and income for means-tested benefits are calculated, but so far there has been no change.

If you are worried that getting compensation might affect your benefits, you might want to get some advice about putting your award in trust. Victim Support may be able to refer you to a person or organisation which can give you advice about this.

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If you disagree with the review decision, you can apply for an appeal. Applications for an appeal are made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel (CICAP), which is independent of Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Information about how to apply for an appeal will be sent to you with the letter about the review decision. Information is also available on the CICAP website.

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More information

Your local branch of Victim Support can help you to claim Criminal Injuries Compensation, or you can find out more information and download an application form on the website of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

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