Do I need a solicitor to claim CICA compensation?
We are often asked, 'Do I need a solicitor to claim CICA compensation?' The simple answer to that appointing a solicitor is not obligatory. You can make a CICA application yourself if you wish and this is what we recommend in many cases. However, there are situations when it is advisable to use a solicitor to claim CICA compensation. In one such case we helped a victim challenge their initial award of £16,500 and get it increased to £181,000. Specialist CICA lawyer, Rachel Thain, looks at the circumstances where it can pay to appoint a solicitor.
Can I do it myself?
You don't have to use a solicitor to claim CICA compensation. The system is designed to be used by members of the public and in straightforward cases this is what we recommend.
However, there are cases when using a solicitor to claim CICA compensation can really pay off. Claims are frequently undersettled, with victims not receiving the full amount of compensation they deserve. In other instances the CICA rejects claims outright, even though they are entirely valid. It is in these circumstances that an experienced CICA compensation solicitor can help.
In one case we helped a victim challenge the CICA's first offer of £16,500, resulting in their final award being increased to approximately £181,000. You can read about this successful CICA appeal here.
In another CICA claim, a client who would have received a basic award of £22,000 was actually paid over £210,000 as a direct result of the key legal evidence we obtained in support of their case.
Having an experienced lawyer by your side can also help when the circumstances of the claim are emotional and challenging. Read Brian's Story, in which Brian Mynott (author of Just Once, When I Was Little) shares his experiences as an abuse survivor and CICA claimant. Brian is in no doubt that if he had his time again he would appoint a specialist solicitor to assist him with his CICA claim.
The problems victims face when making a CICA claim themselves
There are a number of problems our specialist lawyers see time and time again. These all generally stem from victims' lack of knowledge of the CICA scheme. Most people will not have experienced the CICA before, so will not know what evidence is required to maximise their claim. In some cases we have seen people fail to submit an application altogether because they incorrectly thought they could not meet the eligibility criteria.
Victims can also struggle with time limits. There is a two year time limit to submit an application for CICA compensation. The point at which this time limit begins to run will depend on the particular circumstances of the case and the law can get rather complicated. If you are concerned that your claim may be out of time, speak to one of our specialist team as soon as you can and they can guide you on whether you are likely to be successful in persuading the CICA to extend the time limit. Our team know the requirements of the CICA scheme and the type of evidence that will be needed to overcome a time limit problem.
The drafting of the CICA application is also very important. You must ensure that all relevant information is included and let the CICA know exactly what you are asking them to consider. It's advisable to try to make the Authority’s job as easy as possible so as to avoid potential problems. A well drafted application will also prevent delays and ensure that you include all aspects of your claim.
When pursuing a claim yourself, you may not have the contacts, knowledge or resources to ensure the correct evidence is obtained. This is particularly relevant when claiming for lost earnings, mental injuries and injuries that are ongoing or long term. Our specialist team can give you advice on whether an independent medical report should be obtained and will instruct the medical expert to ensure all the relevant parts of the CICA scheme are addressed so that you receive the right amount of compensation.
How we can help you maximise your CICA claim
We can help you make your CICA application. Obviously if we are involved from the outset we can ensure that the claim is maximised right from the start.
However, if you have already submitted the application yourself it is not too late to speak to our team and get help. Whether you are not sure what evidence you need, or are simply feeling a bit overwhelmed by the process, we can take over the claim for you. This can be done at any time during the CICA process.
Funding your CICA claim
Its important to bear in mind that the CICA do not pay legal costs, so if you use a solicitor to claim CICA compensation then there will be legal costs to involved.
However, we do try to make funding a CICA claim as easy as possible. Most people opt for No Win, No Fee funding. This means that you do not have to pay legal costs if you do not win your claim for compensation.
Free CICA helpline
As we have explained, you don't need a solicitor to claim CICA compensation, but for many people it is definitely worth doing so. Call our free CICA helpline on 0808 139 1597 for a chat about how we can help you or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org