A common misconception when claiming to the CICA is that you must have some form of physical injury in order to claim. However, this is incorrect. Throughout this article we will look at how to claim for psychological injuries only, what qualifies and the requirements that have to be met, as per the CICA criteria, to claim. More specifically we will look at this as a direct link from sexual abuse and assault.
Firstly, let’s recount on the difference between sexual abuse and sexual assault;
Sexual Abuse – Reoccurring or repeated incidents from one or more attackers, of non-consensual touching, groping or penetration. Abuse has no set time frame, it could be over the course of a few days, or many years.
Sexual Assault – A singular incident from one or more attackers of non-consensual touching, groping or penetration.
Survivors of sexual abuse and assault often struggle for years after it has taken place, with their mental health. Often, feelings of shame, guilt and self-blame can act as a blockade for survivors reaching out for help, more commonly so if they are male. The biggest and scariest step a survivor has to take is first recognising what has happened to them. More often in abuse and assault survivors we see that the memories of what happened have been pushed down and blocked out by the survivor, as many wish to try and forget what happened and continue. But what happens when an incident triggers those memories to come flooding back? It could be something as random as a specific scent or noise, to even seeing the offender’s picture or face. Reaching out and getting that initial contact for help is the first step on the road to healing from what happened.
The CICA allows for victims to claim, regardless of the crime that has taken place, for only psychological injuries. This means that you do not need to have suffered any form of physical injuries, providing the mental injuries and the treatment you have received meet the criteria set out by the CICA.
The most important rule set out by the CICA is that treatment must have been sought for the mental injuries, and it must have been sought by a mental health professional. Now, this term applies to anyone who specialises in treating mental health, but most commonly applies to Psychologists and Psychiatrist, although it does extend to Community mental health teams and Mental health nurses. Counsellors and Therapists can be a bit of a grey area with the CICA, as it depends on their qualifications and if they are a certified specialist.
Sadly, the CICA do not recognise treatment administered by a GP for mental health. This is because a GP is not qualified specifically enough for their treatment to be considered. Without getting too technical, during the process of a CICA claim, the decision maker will request for the treatment provider to complete a medical report/injury form about the current symptoms and ongoing treatment. Now, a GP would be unable to answer this form to the detail that the CICA require in order to assess the circumstances. A GP would only be able to generally answer the questions. Sometimes, if the survivor has had to have more complex treatment, in a facility, there may be certain assessments they have undergone that a GP would not be able to explain, like a Psychiatrist would. Therefore, the CICA do not accept treatment from a GP only when a claim is based solely on mental injuries.
If you are unsure whether or not the treatment you have received qualifies you for a claim, please contact us and we can assess this for you.
Now we have covered the type of professional who qualifies as acceptable for administering treatment, let’s look at the acceptable evidence and diagnosis. Presently, there are a multitude of different mental health illnesses that an individual can be diagnosed with, the most common we see are;
80% of female teenage survivors of a sexually motivated crime experience the above mentioned mental illnesses days to months after the incident has occurred. However, the scheme is not limited to just these illnesses. Rather than listing every single mental illness, the CICA goes off of severity as confirmed by a professional. These are categorised as the following:
Non-Permanent – Depending on how long treatment was received for (Diagnosis) or ongoing treatment where it has a confirmed end date (Prognosis).
Moderate illness – Dependent on the medical evidence available, this is normally for mental illnesses where it is confirmed the individual will need permanent treatment or support, and have been diagnosed with a disorder.
Severe Illness – This level is more commonly applied to cases where the individual has been sectioned or held in a specialist treatment facility, due to the extent of the mental trauma. This level also applies to those who have been diagnosed with several types of mental illnesses.
These levels are how the CICA determine the amount you will receive. This means that the bracket claim value for mental injuries as a result of sexual abuse or assault can be anywhere from £1,000-£27,000
Another absolute with the CICA is that treatment must have been consistent before and during the time the CICA claim is made. Initially, the CICA understand that getting onto waiting lists can be a lengthy process due to NHS wait times, and survivors are not expected to go private. This means that if it takes some time at the start to get the ball rolling for treatment, this wouldn’t affect the claim as the CICA would be able to see in the medical records that the individual was waiting for treatment. Another circumstance would be if the individual was a child at the time, as they would be unable to seek treatment themselves until they were older.
However, what the CICA wouldn’t accept is if an individual began treatment, and chose to either end it early or was discharged from the service for no showing appointments repeatedly without valid reason. The following examples show when a delay is acceptable and when it isn’t;
Mr B has been a victim of rape. He has reported it to the police and is waiting for the court case to start. Mr B has been told by the police that while the case is ongoing, he is not allowed to discuss it externally with anyone, as this may jeopardise the case and potentially cause it to be thrown out of court. This even extends to speaking to a therapist or psychiatrist. After the court case has finished, Mr B then goes to his doctor to have a further referral done for treatment from a Psychiatrist. The delay for Mr B claiming was justifiable.
Mr C has been a victim of rape. He has reported it to the police and they have been unable to locate the offender. The case is closed. Mr C decides to try and move on from what happened, even though he is struggling with his mental health. A year and a half on from the incident being reported to the police, he decides to go to the GP for treatment and a further referral. Mr C then decides to make a CICA claim. Mr C would likely struggle in making a claim to the CICA, as they would ask for the reason as to why he delayed in claiming sooner.
With all of the above in mind, it is always worth contacting us to assess your case, as we would be able to look at all of the factors and provide you with a response tailored to your circumstances, which would allow you to better understand if you can claim or not.
If anything in this article has affected you, or you have struggled with any of the topics covered today, contact one of the following organisations for further support and help;
Rape Crisis England and Wales – 0808 802 9999
National Male Survivor Helpline and Online Support – 0808 800 5005
Samaritans – 116 123
Further contacts and resources can be found online at: https://sexualabusesupport.campaign.gov.uk/
Sexual abuse cases can take anywhere between 6 to 24 months. CICA sexual abuse claims can take around 6 to 12 months from the date of the submission to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. However, There are a number of outside organisations which we must rely upon for providing the evidence to CICA to support your case, such as police and medical agencies.
CICA claims might take longer in some cases. Sometimes in sexual abuse compensation claims, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may decide to prosecute the assailant. If they do decide to prosecute, then the police report is not normally released until the trial is over. This can delay a compensation offer by a number of months. However, you do not need to wait until the trial is over, meaning you can apply for compensation before the outcome is determined.
For more information or for any advice, please call Criminal Injury Solicitors on 0333 996 9988 or email us on email@example.com.