Anyone who has suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of a crime may have a right to make a criminal witness injury claim. If you have witnessed an act of violence and suffered mental trauma such as nervous shock as a direct result of observing a particular event, you can make a compensation claim. However, as with any physical injury that is attributable to an act of violence, the psychological harm you sustain must be more than merely transient or trifling in nature if you are to be awarded compensation.
Understanding eligibility criteria for a criminal witness injury claim
Your entitlement to make a criminal witness injury claim for a traumatic event you have witnessed or a violent crime that took place against your parent, child or spouse depends on whether or not you meet certain eligibility criteria. As with any criminal injury claim, you have a time limit of two years from the date of the incident in which to file a claim.
You can apply for compensation even if no suspect has been identified or convicted of the offence giving rise to your injury or the death of another person. However, it is critical to know that the most basic requirement that may entitle you to make a criminal witness injury claim is reporting the crime to the police as soon as possible.
Once you obtain the police report and medical documents in support of your claim, you must send them to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). If this official body considers that you are not entitled to receive compensation, then the professionals working here at Accident Advice Helpline can help you to apply for a review. If you also disagree with the review decision, we can help you to make an appeal to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel, which is a body independent from CICA.
To claim compensation for psychological harm, your medical documents should clearly state the condition you have developed as a result of witnessing a certain event. You will also be required to provide documents detailing any pre-existing medical condition. These documents can be issued by your treating practitioner or an expert witness.
Although you may be eligible for compensation, the award may be reduced or even withheld if you are partially responsible for that particular act of violence. If your claim is reduced or refused, CICA must provide supporting evidence and reasons for their decision.
If you qualify for compensation, you will receive an award for the psychological harm you have suffered, the expenses you incurred due to your condition and the loss of earnings you have suffered due to time taken off work. Loss of earnings compensation will be approved only if your injuries resulted in you having no capacity for paid work. Special expenses for ongoing care and support can also form part of the compensation payout.
Accident Advice Helpline are on your side
Being unable to prove that a particular crime has caused you psychological harm can be very frustrating. To help you, our experts will assist you in gathering the documents you need and will represent you in court; this will involve having expert witnesses analyse your case and provide expert testimony. If you would like to learn more about your legal right to make a criminal injury witness compensation claim, feel free to call us on 0800 689 0500 from a landline or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile, or take our online 30-second test.
Date Published: October 12, 2013
Author: David Brown