The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a government organised and funded scheme to provide compensation, on a discretionary basis in accordance with the rules of the scheme, to people who have been injured because of the criminal acts of others, or to the next of kin of people who have been unlawfully killed.
The scheme sets out in detail who may apply for compensation, what the eligibility criteria are, and how applications are considered and assessed.
The CICA assesses compensation for particular types of injury by way of a tariff system. A set amount of compensation is paid for specific types of injury. Additional compensation is paid for loss of earnings were this exceeds 28 weeks, and for other special expenses such as the costs of medical treatment, special equipment, adaptations to the applicant’s accommodation and the cost of care provided by others.
In fatal cases, normally only funeral expenses will be payed, although compensation may be paid additionally where the deceased person has left dependents.
Applications to the CICA should be made on the appropriate form and as soon as possible after the incident. Claims should be made in any event within two years, unless exceptional reasons apply.
The CICA will assess the merits of each claim individually and determine whether or not it is appropriate to pay compensation. There are a number of reasons why the CICA may reduce the amount of compensation, or pay none at all, and these include delay in notifying the police of the incident, failing to co-operate with police, failing to co-operate with the CICA, the conduct of the person making the application (e.g. if it is felt that they contributed towards the injury or assault) and whether the applicant has any criminal convictions (but excluding spent convictions).
Where we can help is in guiding clients through the whole process of application, investigation and consideration by the CICA. For an example, the police records may not show the first report of the incident. These records also may suggest that there was a lack of cooperation from the injured person, when there may be a very good reason for this - it is not unknown for the CICA to be provided with incomplete police records, and we can make sure that the CICA are made aware of all relevant records and inquiries.
Once the decision to make an award has been made, the CICA will then refer to the fixed tariff to determine how much should be paid. We can help here by arguing in borderline cases that the award should be in a higher bracket rather than a lower bracket. Sometimes the CICA does not have all the medical records or reports, and we can ensure that all relevant medical evidence is available to make sure that the appropriate level of the tariff scheme is applied to the particular injury.
Further, given that loss of earnings, care and rehabilitation costs can be paid additionally, we can assist in obtaining the necessary reports and evidence to justify additional compensation under these headings.
No legal costs are paid by the CICA which means that while we will not ask for any payment upfront (or in the event that you do not recover any compensation at all), we will ask you to pay our fees out of your compensation. We would usually suggest payment as a proportion of your compensation so that you are not facing an unlimited legal bill. This means that in some lower value claims it may not be cost-effective for the injured person to instruct a solicitor. If that is the case we will tell you, and we are quite happy to provide you with the relevant forms and show you how to complete them. However, we would not become involved with your claim unless you specifically asked us to do so, in order to avoid incurring costs.
Where a person has suffered more serious injuries we believe we can make a real difference and can often significantly increase the compensation assessed as payable. We can do this firstly by ensuring that you do not fall foul of any of the reasons to refuse or reduce an award, and secondly by ensuring that all the evidence is obtained and available for your injury to be assessed in the highest appropriate bracket of the tariff, and also by recovering the appropriate level of additional compensation for loss of earnings, care and rehabilitation costs.
Given our experience with high value personal injury claims, and also our experience of criminal defence work and dealing with the police, we believe we are well placed to guide you through the potential pitfalls of a CICA claim.