Guidance for Criminal Injuries Applications

If you have suffered injury as a result of a criminal act, you may be able to claim for compensation through the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (2009) (“the Scheme”).

Making an application for criminal injury can be a complicated process, particularly if the injuries suffered are complex in nature.  There are a number of common pitfalls which should be considered and actioned to ensure eligibility in making your application:

  • Where did the incident occur?

The incident and injuries suffered must have occurred in Northern Ireland to apply for compensation under the Scheme.  If you sustain injuries abroad, including England, Scotland and Wales, you would not be eligible under the NI Scheme, however, you may have a remedy under a similar scheme in that jurisdiction.

  • Time Limit

Normally, an application under the Scheme must be made within two years of the date of incident.  This requirement ensures the Compensation Services (the body responsible for reviewing applications) can effectively investigate claims, obtain evidence from police, assess injuries suffered and obtain medical records. 

This time period may be waived by Compensation Services where there is good reason for the delay and when it is in the interests of justice to allow the application.  This may be the case for a victim who is under 18 or where injuries only become apparent after some time, for example in cases of historical sexual abuse.

  • Engaging with the Police and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS)

If you are the victim of crime, it is vital that you report the incident to the Police as soon as possible.  Primarily so that the assailant can be brought to justice but crucially in this context, failure to report to Police may result in a reduction or refusal of any claim for compensation.  Failing to report to the Police due to fear of reprisals, you did not recognise your assailant, or that you did not see any point in reporting the incident will not be excused and the application is likely to be rejected.  However, if you are incapacitated and unable to report to Police as a result of your injuries sustained this will not impact your application.

Beyond the initial report it is crucial that you continue to engage with the Police and the PPS with their investigations and potential prosecution of your assailant.  Where you refuse to make a statement, later withdraw any statement made, or refuse to attend and give evidence any award made will be withheld.  Notably, if you fully engage with Police and the PPS but it is later decided by these authorities that no further action will be taken this will not preclude you from receiving compensation.

  • Impact of Criminal Convictions

The Compensation Agency will take into account a victim of crime’s unspent criminal convictions, even where they are blameless in the incident you are seeking compensation.  The Scheme provides a scale which sets out how any award may be reduced, based on the sentence issued by the court and the period between the date of sentence and submission of application.  Criminal convictions may result in a 10% reduction to a complete refusal of an award.

  • Medical documentation of Injuries

If you are a victim of crime and have sustained physical and psychological injuries your first and foremost priority is to seek immediate medical attention.  This not only ensures your well-being but also establishes a crucial record of injuries, medical treatment, and related expenses.  Additionally, we recommend taking photographs of injuries after the incident and regular photographs showing the healing / recovery process.

Under the Scheme, serious injuries are attributed a monetary value and may vary based on the seriousness of injury, the treatment that was required and the expected time of recovery.  Additionally, under the scheme it is possible to receive compensation for receiving multiple minor injuries, such as grazes or cuts which don’t leave a scar, a bloody nose or severe bruising etc.  To claim under this category of injury there are a number of factors:

  • Three separate injuries;
  • Two visits to a medical practitioner within six weeks of incident*;
  • One of these injuries must have a significant residual effect for 6 weeks after the incident.

* This would include an initial visit to A&E then a follow-up visit to your GP within this period.     

If you seek advice for attending court to give evidence, we strongly recommend Victim Support NI, a charitable organisation who are equipped to help with such matters.  Please contact their office at 028 9024 3133 (Belfast Hub) / 028 7137 0086 (Foyle Hub).   

The Criminal Injury compensation application process can be complex and lengthy. At HHD Solicitors we are determined to make your application for compensation as effective and efficient as possible. To speak with a member of our Criminal Injury Team contact us on 028 9077 0770.