COMPENSATION AVAILABLE TO SURVIVORS
Trust House Reading realises that no amount of money can compensate a survivor for the horrendous experience of having been raped or sexually abused.
Everyone who is the victim of a sexual crime is entitled to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is a Government scheme for compensating victims of crime. The offence has to be reported to the police, although there does not have to have been a conviction, and there are other factors that may affect whether or not an award is made and the amount awarded.
Survivors may also be able to make a civil claim against the person/body who may be to blame (the perpetrator, her/his employer, a local authority, or the managers of an institution).
Through a civil claim, compensation can be sought for the physical and psychological damage suffered and may also take into account loss of earnings, including interrupted education and career opportunities. A successful claim can provide comfort to a survivor as it evidences that they have been believed. It can also help a survivor rebuild their life, bring closure and move forward.
CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION
Criminal Injuries Compensation is a scheme provided by the Government to provide monetary compensation to victims of criminal acts resulting in physical or mental injury.
Criminal Injuries Compensation is available to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. The scheme requires a report to the police and a unique crime reference number. The offender, however, does not need to have been convicted of, or even charged with, a crime for a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation to succeed. The minimum award is £1,000.
Whilst there are time limits for bringing claims, it is possible to make historical claims in exceptional circumstances, as long as the crime took place after 1st August 1964.
Full details of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme can be obtained from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority website which can be accessed by using this link:
The website contains useful information and provides full details of the claims you can make, how to apply for compensation and how your claim will be handled.
You can get assistance from lawyers or other bodies including an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor at your local specialist support centre which can help you through the process. The government, however, do not pay your fees.
In our experience, CICA will challenge claims where the person claiming has any unspent convictions and may reject or reduce the amount awarded.
IT IS ALWAYS WORTH APPEALING ANY AWARD THAT YOU DO NOT CONSIDER TO BE ADEQUATE OR THAT HAS BEEN REDUCED IN THIS WAY.
A survivor can also consider whether it is appropriate to bring a civil action against the person/body to blame for the rape or sexual abuse, for example:
- The perpetrator
- The employer of the survivor
- The Local Authority
- The manager/administrators of an institution
- A school
- A voluntary body or charity.
It may also be possible to bring a civil action against individuals or statutory bodies not mentioned in the list above and professional advice should be obtained in each case.
By bringing a civil action, you will be seeking monetary compensation for the physical and mental injuries you suffered as a result of being raped or sexually or physically abused.
It is important at the outset to talk about costs. If you are unable to fund a civil action against your perpetrator or the person or body to blame for the rape or sexual abuse, there may be other ways of financing an action, such as legal aid (subject to the legal aid rules existing at the relevant time), and “no win no fee” type arrangements. It is also advisable to consider the need for Legal Expenses Insurance.
The solicitor acting for you should carefully explain in detail the terms and conditions that will apply to “no win no fee arrangements” that you are being asked to agree to and accept. It is very important that you ensure that you fully understand everything before you commit to going ahead or before you sign any agreements.
If the body to blame is an institution rather than an individual, then their financial viability or the existence of insurance may be important.
Your solicitor will be very interested in any police activity which has taken place in the recent past or when the incident took place.
If the person to blame is only your perpetrator, it is likely that your solicitor will need to be assured that your perpetrator has sufficient assets or cash available to meet any financial award/judgment made by the Court in your favour before undertaking any significant work in relation to your case.
It is very important that you discuss and agree with your solicitor whether it is worthwhile pursuing a claim before committing yourself to the payment of any fees.
CHOOSING A SOLICITOR
We cannot recommend any individual who is a solicitor or a firm of solicitors to you.
We would, however, strongly suggest that you satisfy yourself that the individual solicitor whom you choose to represent you has:
- good and sufficient knowledge and experience of civil personal injury litigation;
- previous experience in the area of abuse cases.
The following websites may be of some use to you in this context:
The Association of Child Abuse Lawyers: http://www.childabuselawyers.com/
The Law Society: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/
Some of the firms of solicitors mentioned on the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers website will, on their own websites, have additional information about bringing a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation or bringing a civil action seeking monetary compensation which may help you.
We are very happy to try to deal with any questions you may have and to help you to find a solicitor who can advise you whether it will be possible for you to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or commence a civil action. If you wish to contact us, please send an email to the following email address: [email protected]
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF
The process of claiming compensation, whether through CICA or through a civil action, can be lengthy. A claim made to CICA can sometimes take more than a year to reach a conclusion. A claim made by way of a civil action is likely to take two years or more to reach a conclusion. The process may involve obtaining psychiatric or psychological reports to support the claim, which can be triggering. If you are aware of these things beforehand, you can prepare yourself emotionally and make sure you have a good support network in place to help you through the process.