“Going it alone”
Criminal injuries lawyer Rachel Thain looks at the circumstances where a victim of crime is likely to benefit from appointing a specialist lawyer to help them with a criminal injuries compensation claim. Applying for a review of a decision or award is one of those instances. But as Rachel explains, don't hang about.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, commonly referred to simply as the CICA, is a government organisation that offers compensation to blameless victims of violent crime. The current Scheme came into force in November 2012 and sets out the strict eligibility criteria which need to be met for a victim of a crime to qualify for an award of compensation. You do not necessarily need professional legal representation to apply for compensation and in some circumstances you will be better off applying yourself.
We will always assess a case independently and if we feel you can 'do it yourself' then we will tell you. However, in cases involving serious injuries, sexual assault or sexual abuse there are a number of common pitfalls which can trouble the unwary. In these cases specialist, professional legal help may pay dividends in helping to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome.
I often speak with people who have submitted a CICA application themselves, only to find that it is rejected. However, rejection does not always mean you cannot obtain compensation. There are still channels that can be pusued.
Alternatively, the CICA may have offered the appicant an award of compensation but they are concerned it is too low given what they have been through
If you find yourself in this situation it is vital that you act quickly.
You have only 56 days from the date of the CICA’s rejection letter to submit an application to review. If you have received such a letter, we recommend you ring our free legal helpline immediately to discuss your options.
One common reason for rejection is delay. There is a strict 2 year time limit within which a CICA application for compensation must be submitted. When this two year period begins to run will depend on how old you were then the assault or abuse took place and when the matter was reported to the Police. There could be a variety of reasons why you were not able to submit your application within the time limit. What you may not know is that if it can be established that ‘exceptional circumstances’ applied, it is possible to persuade the Authority to extend the time limit. To do so, it is necessary to gather the right evidence in support of your application to review the CICA’s decision to reject your claim. This is when an in-depth knowledge of the Scheme is invaluable and you should consider seeking support from our specialist team of lawyers.
Where the CICA make an award it will be based upon the facts of what happened. However, in some circumstances you may be entitled to a higher award for your injury as well as additional compensation for ‘special expenses’. Again, there are strict criteria which must be met in order to qualify for these higher awards of compensation. To successfully claim a higher award, the CICA will need to be provided with evidence to support your claim and show you do meet the relevant criteria. This could be information regarding your work or specialist medical evidence. So, if you have received an offer that you believe may be too low then again our recommendation is that you contact our team of lawyers to explore how we may be able to help with maximising your compensation.
In both these scenarios (ie you have received a decision letter from the CICA in which they have refused to make an award or they have made an offer you believe is too low) it is absolutely vital you act quickly.
You can contact our specialist lawyers on Freephone 0800 037 8020. Alternatively you can email Rachel Thain herself at firstname.lastname@example.org.