17th December 2012

Without any fanfare (and deservedly so) the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) introduced a new scheme on 27 November 2012 to compensate people who have suffered injury as a result of violent crime in England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland has a separate scheme).

The CICA has run schemes since 1964 which compensate victims of violence. It gets its money to do this from taxes. I guess the theory has been if you are injured in a road traffic accident or at work and it was not your fault an insurer is likely to be available to compensate you for your losses. If however you are assaulted then how likely is it that the person who assaulted you will have any money or insurance cover to pay you compensation? In the past few years we have acted for many innocent people many of whom have suffered very significant injury as a result of violence against them. These have included a male who suffered severe burns when his block of flats was subject to an arson attack, a man who was deliberately shot by a neighbour causing him to suffer life threatening injuries and a manual worker who was assaulted after finding himself in the wrong pub at the wrong time leaving him permanently disabled and no longer able to do his job and support his family.

So how is the new scheme different? In short and no doubt as part of the Government's austerity measures fewer people will receive compensation from the fund and those that do will often receive less compensation. There are too many changes to summarise here – the key point to remember with CICA applications is that applications must be received by them within 2 years of the incident in question; although in certain circumstances late applications may still be considered it would be very unwise to rely on the CICA exercising any discretion to allow a late application. If you have been injured do not delay – seek legal advice.