Civil Compensation Claims
If you have been the victim of a crime of violence, there is more than one path to receiving compensation. Whilst the process governed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has significant benefits, it may also be possible for you to make a civil compensation claim against your attacker.
Making A Civil Claim
Suing your attacker through the civil courts is, in essence, no different to any other personal injury claim. It is likely that you will be suing over what is known as an ‘intentional tort’, rather than negligence, and for this reason you will need to be able to prove that your attacker intended to do you some kind of injury. It should not matter, however, if they only intended to do you a little harm and in fact caused significant injury.
If your attacker has already been convicted in the criminal courts, you are unlikely to have any problems in proving an intentional tort. However, even if your attacker has been acquitted by the criminal courts, you may still be able to make a civil criminal injuries claim. This is because the standard of proof in civil cases is lower than that of criminal trials. You must only convince the court ‘on the balance of probabilities’, as opposed to ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. This is the reason that some victims of crime wait to see if a criminal trial succeeds before bringing a civil claim.
Differences Between CICA And Civil Claims
In general, a successful civil personal injury claim will lead to you being awarded more money than the fixed awards available through the CICA process, and the time limit on civil claims is also more generous at three rather than two years. When considering other limitations on the CICA process, such as the inability to claim for loss of earnings unless they have continued for more than 28 weeks, it seems odd that anyone would bother with CICA at all. The main reason, of course, is that most criminal offenders are not in a position to pay large amounts of compensation to their victims. Unless you have been assaulted by a rich offender, you are unlikely to see most of the compensation award that you have been granted. In contrast, CICA awards come from public funding, and are guaranteed.
Can I Claim Through Both Processes?
Fortunately, you do not necessarily need to make a decision between the two kinds of criminal injury claims. It is entirely possible to apply to CICA whilst going through the civil court personal injury claim process. However, if you are successful in the latter, you will need to repay any CICA compensation from the damages you receive from the defendant. There is, therefore, always a danger that you may end up with very little compensation if the defendant can only afford to pay as much compensation as you have already received from CICA. Anyone considering the twin-track approach should be careful to ensure that the person they are suing can realistically pay.
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