If you have been the victim of a violent crime and have suffered physical or mental injury, then you may be able to submit a claim for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The CICA is a government body established to compensate innocent victims of criminal assault and other violent crimes. Eligibility requirements are complex and therefore it is important to seek legal advice if you think you may be entitled to claim.

An application may be refused if you do not report the incident to the police as soon as reasonably practicable. It is also important that you assist police with their enquiries in an attempt to bring the assailant to justice. However, it is not necessary for there to be a criminal conviction brought against the assailant for a victim to have a successful claim.

You may be refused compensation if you have an unspent criminal conviction that resulted in a prison sentence (including a suspended prison sentence), regardless of what this offence relates to. You may also be refused compensation if you are found to have contributed, or been a part of, the crime in question.

A claim to the CICA must be submitted within two years of the date of the incident. If the incident occurred when you were a minor, then you will have until your 20th birthday, or two years after the date you reported the incident to the police, whichever is later. The CICA may waive the time limit in exceptional circumstances, for example, where the applicant was a victim of historic sexual abuse. However, such a waiver is rare, and you should therefore not delay in submitting an application.

The CICA has compiled a ‘tariff of injuries’, which is a list setting out specific injuries and the corresponding amount of compensation such an injury would receive. Although the awards are lower than what an individual may be entitled to if they were eligible for civil action for personal injury, they can still be significant, and the maximum award is £500,000.

The CICA will also consider compensating a victim for mental injury which has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Additionally, if you have been unable to work for more than 28 weeks due to the incident, the CICA may compensate you for your lost earnings. It may also be possible to apply for the cost of your medical care.

Since the scheme was initially established in 1964, more than £3 billion has been paid out in compensation, making this one of the most generous schemes in the world. If you have been the victim of a violent crime and suffered physical or mental injury and would like to discuss whether or not you have a claim, please contact our personal injury department today for free initial advice.

 Victoria Machin is a solicitor within the firm who specialises in personal injury claims, civil litigation, and is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. Details of our range of Personal injury services can be found at http://www.clarkwillis.com/services/personal-injury/