Released On 11th Feb 2015
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme Abroad
What happens if you are a victim of a violent crime outside Great Britain? Clearly the first step will be to seek medical attention and make sure that you are properly treated.
Once you have resolved any medical issues then you should contact the local police as soon as reasonably practicable and a crime reference number obtained. This is an important step as almost all national compensation schemes require evidence that the police have been informed as soon as the victim is able to. In practice this means within 24 hours of the incident or discharge from hospital. Some local schemes will deny compensation entirely if the police have not been informed at an early stage, and some local compensation schemes will reduce the amount of compensation for any delay in contacting the police. The principle is that the earlier the police are informed the more likely the perpetrator of the crime will be apprehended.
However, it is often the case that the perpetrators of violent crime are not apprehended by the police and even if they are caught are not in a position to meet any claim for compensation.
If you are ordinarily a resident in the UK and have been injured abroad as a result of a violent crime then you may be entitled to apply for compensation from the state in which you were injured.
The schemes differ from country to country including the amount of compensation, the rules and regulations of the scheme and the claims of you can make. Generally countries within the EU operate similar schemes to those non-EU countries.
If the crime happened in an EU country
The UK CICA is required to assist applicants pursuant to the European Union Council Directive 2004/80/EC. The Directive requires that each member state should appoint an ‘assisting authority’ to help people apply for compensation from other member states. The CICA is the 'assisting authority' and it can help people from the UK to apply for criminal injuries compensation from the EU country where the crime occurred.
This Directive requires that EU member states have to set up compensation schemes that guarantee fair and appropriate compensation to victims of violent crime.
However, bear in mind the Directive is broadly drafted and the schemes of other EU member states are likely to be different from the UK CICA scheme.
To qualify you must:-
1. Suffer your injury after 1 July 2005;
2. Be the victim of a violent and deliberate crime. Therefore someone who is the victim of theft does not qualify, but will do so if the crime were a robbery.
3. Suffer the crime in another EU country; and
4. Ordinarily be resident in the United Kingdom.
The EU member countries for which the UK CICA scheme is available to administer your Application are:
Czech Republic Italy
However, note that countries such as Switzerland or Norway are not part of this scheme, although may well have their own scheme.
There are often similar features of UK and other EU compensation schemes. For instance both the UK and other EU member states claims must normally be submitted within two years of the incident. There must be full co-operation with the police including assistance with the prosecution. There must be no element of provocation of the assailant by the victim. Thus victims who were drunk themselves and got involved in a brawl may not be compensated. Generally, any victim with a criminal record - even if is not related to the assault - is excluded from making a claim, however badly injuries and however meritorious the claim. Most jurisdictions recognise that compensation should only be paid out to blameless victims, that is to say, those of previous good character with no criminal record.
The UK CICA will only administer your Application. It will not compensate you according to UK standards. Therefore the CICA will:-
1. Assist you to find out about the compensation scheme in the country where you were injured.
2. Give you an application form, advice about how to complete it; and guidance on any supporting documents that you might have to supply.
3. Forward your completed application to the relevant authority in the EU country where you were injured.
4. Advise you if you receive any request for extra information we will give you advice on such as how to reply and forward your response to the relevant authority.
The CICA will apply to your claim the rules of the local jurisdiction in the country which you are injured. You should bear in mind the UK and CICA scheme is considered to be very generous by comparison to its European counterparts. For instance a number of European countries do not have a free National Health Service and rely upon private insurance. Therefore your claim may be limited to an amount of compensation equivalent to the cost of the medical treatment that you would be expected to pay in the country in which you are resident. As medical treatment is by and large free in the UK you may find some EU countries that only pay for the cost of health care compensate very little for the UK victim. Often there will be no additional tariff for pain and suffering, and loss of amenity that is compensated in the UK.
Take Germany as an example. In cases of violent crime committed in Germany, compensation is limited to the cost of any health care caused by the physical assault provided that it was violent and intentional. Compensation is also available for the reduction in the income of the victim caused by ill health. Typically this will be for time off work. Psychological injuries are recognised and can be compensated.
However, the amount of the compensation is generally limited to state benefits. Thus a high earner who is injured in a violent crime and takes time off work will only qualify for the German equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay, notwithstanding their true loss of income.
In terms of medical treatment the German scheme will compensate for:
1. Private medical treatment. Thus free treatment on the NHS will not be compensated.
2. Aids and appliances, and rehabilitation if not supplied on the NHS.
3. A monthly non means tested pension in cases of permanent damage to health and a means tested pension if the injury has an adverse effect on the income.
Note that compensation is not paid for property damage or financial loss. Furthermore compensation for pain and suffering are not paid.
As in the UK legal aid is generally not available and the victim will have to pursue a claim himself or pay a lawyer.
The CICA also administers schemes for compensation of victims of violence abroad in the instance of human trafficking and members of the Armed Forces who have been injured as a result of violent crime away from the battlefield.
If the crime happened in a Non EU country
Some non EU countries have schemes similar to the UK’s CICA compensatory scheme. However, not all non-EU countries have such schemes.
The countries that have similar schemes to the UK include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and even the United States (where the schemes vary from state to state).
For instance in Australia victims of violent crime may be compensated. Generally, the scheme pays some compensation to the victim but it is really intended to support and rehabilitate. Levels of compensation vary for each case, but could help to cover medical and psychological expenses as well as provide lump sums as high as $50,000 (about £25,000).
In Australia their compensation scheme is available for victims of violent attacks, sexual assault rape and child exploitation. However, there are strict time limit on claims, and although the law differs in State, the general requirements are that:
1. you have sustained an “injury” of some form;
2. the injury was caused by some form crime involving violence; and
3. The victim could be the person who suffered the crime personally, somebody who witnessed the crime or a family member of the victim.
A victim does not need to be an Australian resident or live in a particular state where the injury occurred, which allows visitors to different parts of the country to claim where the injury occurred. The law also makes a distinction between different types of victims.
Before you embark upon a claim for compensation arising from injuries suffered as a result of a violent crime abroad you should seek expert legal advice. At robsonshaw solicitors we specialise in CICA claims and may be able to help you. We are happy to discuss your case on a confidential, no obligation basis. If you or a family member were the vicitim of a violent crime abroad, please contact us on 01392 345333, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.