For victims of criminal assault, constantly reliving their ordeal is a common and unavoidable part of their everyday lives following the attack.
Even though a victim may appear to have the ability to cope after such an assault, the long-term effects for some can be devastating. Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even mental breakdowns are commonly reported amongst victims of assault.No one expects to be assaulted, but if it happens to you, what do you do?
First and foremost, contact the Police and report the incident, so that the crime against you can be recorded and fully investigated. It will also provide you with a crime reference number, which may be needed later on if you decide to make a claim.
It is okay to feel scared and angry after an assault. It is also okay to seek compensation for an assault from the perpetrator to lessen your ordeal a little bit.
So, if you have been a victim of an assault, this guide will show you what the law considers assault, what you can claim for, and provide you with the key information needed to claim compensation.
What Are The Different Categories Of Assault?
There are different categories of assault recognised by UK law. They cover everything from verbal threats to inflicting severe physical harm to another person which, in the most serious cases, could lead to life changing injuries or disability. They are broadly described as follows:
1) Sexual Assault
This assault deals with all sexual contacts that happen without the consent of the victim. Stalking, rape, sexual abuse of minors, and alcohol or drug-assisted sexual assaults are all included in this category.
2) Common Assault
This type of assault is based on someone inflicting a violent act on another person, no matter how minor or slight it may be, or making a person believe that an attack is imminent. There does not have to be a physical or visible injury to the victim, as this crime can include things like threatening behaviour or a raised fist, that a victim believes will lead to an attack. In some cases, even spitting can also be classed as a common assault.
If violence has been used in the assault, it is called a ‘battery’. However, this term does not mean a victim was necessarily ‘beaten up’. It does cover such acts as being hit or kicked, but it may also apply if they were violently grabbed or pushed. However, any physical injury sustained would need to be quite minor to fall under the category of common assault. Most violent acts that leave a physical injury, dependent on the severity, are more likely to fall into one of the next two groups.
3) Assault Causing Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
Unlike common assault, this type of violent assault would result in there being physical and visible injuries on the victim. They do not necessarily have to be permanent or serious injuries to qualify as an ABH case, but the overall category of assault will be determined by the severity of the harm caused. Therefore, in practice, if a victim suffered what is known as ‘transient or trifling’ injuries, the attack is more likely to fall under the banner of common assault.
4) Assault Causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)
Violent assaults of this nature are the most serious and can result in severe and life changing injuries to the victim, e.g. glassing injuries, head injuries and stabbings. There must be serious physical harm for an assault to fall into this category and it includes unlawful wounding (breaking of the skin).
Note: Apart from sexual assault, the law categorises the other three levels of assault based on the type of injuries caused and the severity of harm intended/caused.
What Type Of Assault Can I Claim Compensation For?
It is not always obvious what type of assault you can make a claim for. Also, it can be difficult to figure out where your assault fits into the categories defined by UK law.
To help you, here is a list of the most common types:
- Criminal assault
- Assault with a weapon
- Sexual assault
- Unprovoked attack by someone you know or a stranger
- Assault in your workplace or a public place
- Domestic assaults (inclusive of any physical or sexual assaults on minors)
- Aggravated assault
- Assault in prison
- Violent assault that results in a fatality
- Assault by a security guard or bouncer
- Shaken baby syndrome
- Assaults by your partner/spouse or a close relative
- Negligent assault by a carer (support worker, hospital worker, care home)
Am I Eligible To File A Criminal Assault Claim?
Your eligibility to file a claim for criminal assault depends on the following:
- You were the victim of a criminal assault
- You did not incite or provoke the assault
- You were psychologically traumatised after witnessing an assault or its aftermath on your loved one or a stranger
- Your close relative died as a result of an assault
- You were injured while trying to stop an ongoing assault
- You were responsible for the funeral costs of someone who died from a violent assault
How Do I Get Compensation After An Assault?
If you have decided to seek compensation, the following two options are available to you:
- File a civil claim
- File a CICA claim
What Should I Know About Filing A Civil Claim?
With this option, your claim will be filed against the person responsible for your assault. However, you are not limited to filing a claim against just one person. Several persons or organisations may be part of your claim, as long as you can prove that they all had some responsibility for the assault and are all therefore liable.
For instance, if a bouncer at a club assaulted you, your civil claim can include the bouncer as an individual, the club manager and the club itself as defendants.
What type of damages can I be awarded in a civil claim?
Typically, your compensation will be determined by the following factors:
1) Past Financial Losses
This factor calculates all injury-related expenses caused by the assault. Some examples include past medical expenses, travel expenses, and loss of earnings. Keeping receipts is a must !
2) Future Financial Losses
This deals with potential expenses you will incur while treating your injuries. It includes future medical costs, any potential adaptation to your car or home, and future loss of earnings due to your inability to work as before.
3) General Damages
This depends on the type and severity of your injury. Based on guidelines set by the Judicial College, you should expect to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity (quality of life).
How Do I Begin Filing A Civil Claim?
If you choose the option of a civil claim, here are steps you can take to make your claim successful:
Consult A Medical Expert
As soon as the assault occurs, get checked out by a medical practitioner to find out the severity of your injury and its long-term effects on your life.
This information, in addition to the prescriptions and other medical procedures used to treat your injury, will form part of your medical record. It is this medical record that will be submitted to the courts by your solicitor as proof of the assault.
Collate Your Evidence
Photographs and videos of the scene where the assault happened will also form part of your evidence, along with your written statement of what happened in as much detail as possible and photos of any injuries. If it is possible, also try to get eyewitness statements and contact details from anyone who witnessed the assault.
Contact A Solicitor
Enlisting the help of an experienced solicitor is a vital step when filing a civil claim. Your solicitor will go through your evidence and decide if you have a valid case or not.
What Is A CICA Claim?
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government scheme that financially compensates innocent casualties of violent crimes.
To file a CICA claim, you have to fill an online application. After which the CICA will undertake an investigation to find out if your application is valid.
Once this is concluded and the CICA validate your claim, the CICA will then offer you compensation.
What Information Will The CICA Ask For?
The following information will be required when you are filling out the online application:
- Date of the assault and location it happened
- Name and address of your GP
- Valid proof of identity e.g. power of attorney, marriage or birth certificate
- Your crime reference number
- Name of police station where the incident was reported
- Details of any former CICA applications you have made
- Name and address of your dentist (only applicable if you needed dental treatment because of injuries as a direct result of the assault)
- Details of any unspent criminal convictions that you may have
Note: Ensure all information is correct and not misleading. If the CICA finds any falsehood during their investigation, you may be prosecuted.
What Is The Time Limit For Filing My Claim?
The law gives victims of criminal assault a time frame of two years to file their claim. The countdown starts from the date of the assault.
However, if the assault happened when you were a minor, there may be provisions for a time extension, particularly in cases of child sexual abuse or physical assault against a child.
Are There Any Scenarios That Can Prevent Me From Filing A Claim?
Yes, there are situations you should be wary of as they can disqualify your claim and they include:
- You refused to co-operate with the CICA or police during investigations
- Your behaviour provoked the assault
- You did not report to the police within 48 hours after the assault happened
- You have a criminal record
How Much Should I Expect As Compensation For An Assault?
The CICA’s compensation amount is set by its tariff system, which determines the value of each injury. Typically, compensation pay-outs range anywhere from £1,000 to £500,000, depending on the severity of the injury.
In cases where you have more than one injury, the CICA will only compensate you for three injuries in the following order:
- 100% compensation for the most serious injury
- 30% for the second most serious injury
- 15% for the third most serious injury
In contrast, there are no limits on a civil claim compensation. Depending on the assault’s long-term effect on a victim’s life or severity of the injury, millions of pounds could be awarded as compensation in the most severe of cases.
How Long Will My Claim Take To Conclude?
If you are going down the CICA route, expect your claim to be finalised within 6 – 18 months. However, complex cases can take the CICA significantly more time to wrap up. On the other hand, civil claims can typically take anywhere between 1 – 4 years to conclude.
Will I Be Able To Afford To File A Claim?
For the civil claim route, most law firms offer a No Win-No Fee arrangement that only collects payment for legal fees if your claim is successful and filing an application with CICA yourself is free.
Note: You do not need a legal adviser to make a claim to CICA on your behalf, but if you choose to do so and instruct a solicitor to assist you, any legal fees they charge will then need to paid by you.
The Authorities Have Not Apprehended Or Arrested Anyone Responsible For My Assault – Can I Still Claim Compensation?
Your claim is independent of the whereabouts of the person responsible for your assault. You will be in good stead to receive compensation for your ordeal providing you can prove the following:
- You did not provoke the assault
- You immediately reported the assault to the police
- You sustained injuries from the assault
We understand you may be hesitant about seeking compensation for the ordeal you went through. After all, the process of filing a claim can bring up memories you would rather forget. However, remember the compensation you could receive could help in offsetting the additional expenses you incurred because of the assault, as well as awarding an amount for your pain and suffering.
So, before settling on either a civil or CICA claim, carefully consider which option would be suitable for your circumstances. If you wish, speaking to a claims advisor for some no-obligation advice could help point you in the right direction.