Catherine Morgan, Solicitor in our Serious Injuries team, discusses the findings from recent research carried out by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which has shown that victims are being under-compensated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Recent data obtained by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has shown that victims who have sustained injury as a result of a violent crime risk being under-compensated for their injuries if they do not challenge a CICA pay-out decision.
The analysis of the data obtained by APIL shows that there is a stark contrast between the initial compensation offered by the CICA and how much victims go on to receive if they appeal a decision.
APIL reports that in the 379 cases which reached appeal in 2022/23, an average of £7,848 was offered on each claim in the first instance. However, at appeal, the CICA’s offer in these cases increased to £47,339. That equates to six times more per person.
The CICA is an Agency of the Ministry of Justice which deals with compensation claims from people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were a victim of a violent crime.
A full guide is available to help individuals understand the scheme and the claims process. The scheme is divided into various topics covering the eligibility criteria, how to make an application, time limits and how the CICA will handle a claim. Compensation for CICA claims is set at fixed levels depending on the nature and extent of the injury a person has sustained. The minimum compensation that is available under the scheme is £1,000 and the maximum amount that can be awarded is £500,000.
Kim Harrison, APIL vice president commented:
“The CICA tells victims of crime that they do not need to appoint a legal representative to pursue their claim. But these figures clearly suggest that victims are not receiving the compensation to which they are entitled if they do not have legal assistance.”
When carrying out the research, APIL found criticism from survivors of terror attacks, who say that the system is ‘broken’. A report by the support network, Survivors Against Terror, shows that over 130 survivors of attacks, including the Fishmongers’ Hall stabbings in London in 2019 and the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, gave account of their awful experiences of using the CICA scheme.
A violent crime can affect a person in many different ways, including mentally and physically. The thought of pursuing a claim for compensation under the CICA scheme can be daunting let alone navigating the appeals process. Not everyone is aware or feels equipped to appeal a decision from the CICA on their own. It is important and sensible to obtain expert legal advice to ensure that victims of crime receive the appropriate and just compensation that they’re entitled to under the CICA scheme.
In my experience of dealing with CICA claims, I have more often than not had to ask for the first decision to be reviewed as it has not been anywhere near the appropriate amount of compensating using the tariff scheme. Often it takes a number of years to get to a stage where the CICA will make an initial offer and by this time injured people are often fed up and exhausted. Without representation they may not know how to challenge the offer made by the CICA or they may not have the energy to do so. Sadly, we often end up taking cases to the tribunal or appeal stage as even after a review decision, the second offer is still not appropriate. This long-winded process can cause a lot of stress to injured people and their families and without specialist legal advice, it can be difficult to challenge such a large public body. Sadly, I am not surprised to read the outcome of the APIL report that on average those cases which are taken to appeal stage end up being valued by the tribunal at six times the initial figure offered by the CICA.
The Serious Injury Team at Hugh James specialises in supporting victims and their families following serious injuries sustained as a result of a violent crime and provide advice and representation on the CICA claims process. We regularly appeal awards made by the CICA which do not adequately compensate victims