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If you are able to prove that you are eligible to receive money under the Criminal Injuries Compensation programme, you will still need to work out exactly how much you are likely to be awarded. This can be done by downloading the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 from the Ministry of Justice website. Be sure that you have the most up to date version, as the recent sweeping changes to the scheme have changed the amounts awarded.

Tariff Of Injuries

The first part of the scheme to consult is the ‘tariff of injuries’, which lists a whole range of potential injuries to all parts of the body. You will need to ascertain which heading most closely resembles the damage you have suffered, and then choose the appropriate bracket of severity. For example, if the criminal assault which has been inflicted on you has resulted in a degree of loss to your sense of smell or taste, you simply need to consult that part of the tariff. The injuries listed there range from a partial loss of either smell or taste (which attracts around £3,500 in compensation) to a complete loss of both taste and smell (which attracts up to £16,500). Essentially, this exercise is similar to the one which lawyers undertake in personal injury cases to decide the ‘general damages’ due in negligence.

Multiple Injuries

The scheme is specific about the procedure which will be undertaken when deciding compensation for multiple injuries. CICA will not compensate victims for more than three injuries, and apply a reducing scale when doing so. The first, most major injury will be granted 100% of the compensation dictated by the tariff of injuries. The second, however, will only be granted 30% of the usual compensation, whilst the third will only gain 15% of the normal damages.

If an injury only occurs because the criminal act worsened an existing condition, compensation may be granted as long as the damage caused is considered to be over £1,000. If the injury suffered simply does not appear on the tariff at all, it must be referred to the Secretary of State for Justice by the responsible CICA officer, and a decision will be made as to whether it will attract compensation or not.

Special Payments

As in tort, compensation for the injury itself is only part of the possible monetary award. CICA will also consider ‘special payments’ for some forms of damage, such as loss of earnings or the cost of medical treatment. These are subject to a number of specific conditions, however, and are not as easily obtained as in normal personal injury actions. Compensation due to loss of earnings, for example, can only be granted if the loss is a direct result of the injury suffered, if the victim was in work for three years before the injury or had a good reason for not being in work, and if the victim remains unable to work in anything but a very limited capacity.

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Schedule of Loss Amendments

From 27th November 2012, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme underwent a number of significant changes. By amending the schedule of loss which dictates who can claim through CICA, the Government has excluded many injuries which it considers ‘minor’ from attracting compensation.

Minor Injury Exemptions

The full list of injuries which now cannot be claimed through CICA is too long to fully enumerate here. The trade union movement, however, has estimated that the changes affect almost 90% of criminal injuries compensation claimants in one way or another. Injuries such as a broken nose, mild concussion, temporary deafness, or minor burns, are now unlikely to attract any compensation at all. Most injuries which formerly attracted payments of under £1,000 are not now eligible for compensation.

The Government has made these changes in order to keep CICA’s budget under control, stating that the reforms will cut £50 million from the annual criminal compensation bill. This is usually around £200 million, but in 2011/12 it rose to around £450 million, largely due to a significant backlog of payments from previous years. Unions, however, have pointed out that an award of £1,000 or less is not necessarily an insignificant amount of money to a victim of violent crime, and the new scheme takes away from victims the feeling that some justice has been done through compensation.

Unspent Criminal Convictions

The scheme has also been changed to make it more difficult for claimants with unspent criminal convictions to apply for compensation. In most circumstances, anyone with an unspent criminal conviction is now unable to claim through CICA. The Government claim that over 20,000 people with criminal convictions have claimed a total of £75 million through the scheme, which is the reason for these changes. The problem, of course, is that the nature of one’s criminal conviction is not usually taken into account when making the decision about compensation. A four year old conviction for possession of cannabis, for example, could now lead to someone who is raped being ineligible for any compensation whatsoever.

Increased Victim Surcharge

In addition to the cuts being made in CICA provision, the Government is also increasing the so-called ‘victim surcharge’, which is payable by any offender who is fined by the courts. The intention is that the surcharge will help to fund the CICA scheme in the future, reducing the burden on the taxpayer. Whereas the surcharge was formerly a £15 addition to all fines, the new Government scheme imposes a surcharge of 10% of any fine, and increasing lump sums in the case of a community or custodial sentence. It remains to be seen whether this will protect the CICA scheme from further changes in the future.

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CICA Decisions

Not every criminal injury claim is successful at the first stage. For a variety of different reasons, claimants can find that their application to CICA is turned down, or that the amount of compensation they have been offered is much lower than they had expected. For this reason, the criminal injury compensation process has a number of built in processes for challenging decisions with which you do not agree.

Apply For A Review Of Your Claim

The first step is to apply for a review of your claim within CICA itself. You must do this within 90 days of receiving the original decision. You should explain why you think the decision was wrong or unfair, and point out any factual inaccuracies or misunderstandings of your situation which you think may have led to a refusal of your claim. Your application will then be looked at afresh by another CICA officer, who will not have had any involvement in your claim until now. This will be done ‘on the papers’, as with the original application, so you will not be able to put your case in person. CICA’s final decision will then be sent to you by letter.

Appealing After An Unsuccessful Review

If you are still unsatisfied with CICA’s decision and the reasoning which has led to it, you will be able to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation). This is an independent arm of the Tribunal Service, which has responsibility for overseeing criminal injury claim decisions, and particularly the way in which CICA implements the statutory legislation in this area. If you wish to appeal, however, you will need to apply within 90 days of receiving your final review decision letter from CICA. The Tribunal can extend the time for appeals, but rarely does so unless there is a very good reason.

You do not require a lawyer to bring an appeal to the Tribunal, although it is best to seek some form of legal advice at this stage. You cannot simply win an appeal because you view CICA’s decision as unfair. They must have misapplied some element of their statutory duty, or misunderstood your situation, if you are to succeed at the Tribunal. CICA will lodge a response following your appeal, and you will then have a further period of one month to lodge any further documents to address their reasoning. After this, the Tribunal will either invite you to a hearing, or make a decision on the papers. If you do need to attend a hearing, you will be able to claim travel expenses, as long as you can produce evidence and your spending is within reason! In most cases, the decision of the Tribunal judge will be final. In very rare instances, you may be able to seek judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision via the Upper Tribunal, but if you are involved in such a case you should certainly seek legal advice before progressing any further.

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Criminal Injury Compensation Claims Top Mistakes

Ever since the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and its predecessors were set up, interested parties have been making the same major mistakes when attempting to make a claim. Make sure you are able to access criminal injury compensation by avoiding these most common pitfalls:

1. Not Reporting The Crime

The initial mistake made by many people is not to report the criminal act in the first place. It may sound obvious, but if you don’t report what happened, it is very unlikely that you will be able to claim later on. CICA would be open to fraud if they were not strict about requiring proof in the form of police reports, and it is usually not a defence to argue that you thought the offence to be too minor to bother with. If you suffer an act of criminal violence, report it!

2. Not Cooperating With The Police

Once you have reported the crime, make sure that you cooperate with the police in any way that is required. If they ask you for further details, or for participation in an event such as an identification parade, make sure that you get involved. CICA is unlikely to be impressed with any evidence that you did not make every effort to assist the police as they searched for the perpetrator of the crime for which you are seeking compensation.

3. Not Declaring Involvement With The Crime

Criminal injury compensation is not usually available to those people who have contributed to the damage they have suffered. In other words, if you were somehow involved with the crime of which you are complaining, you will not be eligible. This can include circumstances in which you were assaulted having started a confrontation, or in which you suffered criminal violence whilst performing a criminal act yourself. Many people don’t mention these kind of situations when making an application, which can lead to serious consequences.

4. Missing Time Limits

Since CICA claims are often made following the success or failure of ordinary negligence claims, many people find themselves missing the statutory time limits imposed on criminal injury compensation. If you are approaching the main two year limit, then consider making an application even if other proceedings are still going on. Similarly, don’t forget that in order to apply for a review of any CICA decision, you need to be within the strict ninety day limit for doing so.

5. Not Cooperating With CICA

A surprising number of claimants simply do not cooperate with CICA’s procedures. You may be required to undergo an independent medical examination, or to fill in more paperwork in order to provide additional details of the crime and your injury. Suffice to say that if you ignore these extra steps, you will not be getting any money for the injury you suffered. Make sure that you do everything necessary, and don’t become one of the many people each year who find themselves making some or all of these easily avoidable mistakes.

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