Gary Mannion: Criminal injury victims are set for some serious cuts
ALTHOUGH many victims of a criminal injury are able to return to a normal life, readjustment takes time, and seeking compensation is often not the most pressing thing on their minds.
But a recent parliamentary decision suggests that “low-level” victims may have to act fast after proposed changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were approved by the House of Lords. These will lead to around 17,000 victims, who each year suffer injuries such a fractured rib or a dislocated jaw, being denied compensation altogether. Even those who have suffered more serious injuries, such as brain damage, will have their compensation reduced.
It is estimated that those no longer entitled to receive compensation could comprise as much as 60 per cent of all victims. The proposals are another reform introduced by the Westminster Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, who has said the changes would ensure victims receive better support, although it is unclear how depriving them of the right to compensation for their injuries would assist.
But the reforms go further still, and include plans to reduce payments for loss of earnings for victims so badly injured that they are unable to work again. Currently, a figure is awarded to reflect what an injured person would have been able to earn had they not been a victim of a violent crime. The government now wants to limit this to a level of earnings equivalent to statutory sick pay, which to me is the most unjust of all the proposals because it effectively punishes someone for being assaulted.
Many beyond the legal profession will agree with Karl Tonks, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, when he said that “falling victim to a violent crime is a harrowing experience for an innocent individual and it is only fair that an injured person is provided with the redress he needs to get back on his feet”.
The draft 2012 Scheme laid before parliament states that its proposals may come into force as early as the final day of September 2012. Therefore, any recent victim of a criminal injury should consider applying for compensation prior to this date to avoid missing out.
• Gary Mannion is a senior solicitor in the Dundee office of Blackadders.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West