December 23 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Victims of crime in Norfolk have been awarded compensation payments of up to £370,000 for injuries including a broken arm, collapsed lung, and even serious brain damage, new figures have revealed.
Data from the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA) show that in the past three years it has awarded payouts totalling £5.8 million to victims of crime in the county.
The list of more than 850 payouts, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, includes compensation for injuries including £370,000 for moderate brain damage, £43,500 for the loss of an eye and £93,000 for a permanent back injury.
In 2012, CICA capped payouts to £250,000 for the most serious injuries. All claims have to be as a result of violent crimes.
There are also 43 payouts to families of victims killed in criminal incidents totalling £731,000, with the largest single claim being just under £150,000.
Victims of sexual abuse have been paid out more than £1.75 million in the past three years.
Despite the payouts being made since 2010, a number of the related crimes date back decades, with some having taken place before 1981, according to CICA.
John Cary, solicitor at Fosters in Norwich, said CICA was “notoriously slow” in dealing with claims.
“They are probably one of the slowest people that we deal with in terms of organisations.
“I have got cases going on from several years ago and clients calling me all the time wanting to know if there’s been progress,” he said.
Mr Cary said around 70 per cent of claims are successful, despite the firm only taking on cases that are likely to end in a payout.
Even when claims are successful, the amounts paid out are not commensurate to the injury, according to Mr Cary.
“They will come up with all sorts of reasons to refuse claims.
“There’s a lot of evidence needed.
“The scheme was changed in November 2012 and now the payouts don’t accurately reflect what clients would get in a civil action.
“It’s not a lot of money for people who can have suffered quite horrific injuries,” he said.
A spokesman for CICA said it “sympathised” with victims of crime.
The spokesman added: “Although we aim to make compensation payments as quickly as possible, we have a duty to the taxpayer to investigate claims properly while ensuring that the applicant gets the level of compensation they deserve.
“In some cases it may not be in the best interests of an applicant to finalise a claim before the long term implications of an injury can be properly assessed.
“We are guided by expert opinion on when a final decision about an applicant’s medical condition can best be made.”
Have you had to wait on a compensation claim after being a victim of crime? If you have a story, email reporter Andrew Fitchett at this address: andrew.fitchett@ archant.co.uk