Compensation claims - the options available

There are two ways of proceeding to obtain compensation for abuse - a civil compensation claim
or a criminal injuries compensation claim.

The process of making a civil compensation claim for abuse

The purpose of civil claims is to recognise a wrong by awarding 'damages', or compensation. It aims to put you (the claimant) back into the financial position you would have been in had you not been wronged or harmed, in so far as it is reasonably possible. 

You may have options as to who you can claim compensation from (the defendant). You can bring a legal action against the person who abused you, or their employer, or the organisation for which they were working at the time. Most employers and organisations have insurance which means that if you are successful, compensation will be paid by their insurance company.

The choice of defendant in your case will be determined by a number of factors, which we can explain fully during initial discussions.

Examples of organisations that can be pursued include:

  • Religious organisations
  • Charitable organisations
  • Local authorities
  • Care homes
  • Schools
  • Community groups e.g. The Scout Association
  • Ministry of Defence

Reporting to the police and gathering evidence

If you have not reported your abuse to the police, it is likely we will recommend you do this as soon as possible. We can assist you in making initial contact with the right police station. And we will support you in your complaint and any subsequent criminal proceedings.

We will also need to gather as much evidence as possible. This may involve asking for a copy of all relevant police statements, your social services records, your GP and counselling records, and interviewing any witnesses.

This evidence will inform our 'letter of claim' which is the first notification to any potential defendant of the nature of and reasons for your claim, explaining why they are responsible.

If your opponent is not willing to resolve your claim, it may be necessary to register your claim at court. However most abuse claims settle 'out of court' and it is fairly unusual for claims to go all the way to a full trial before a judge.

How much compensation will you get?

If you win your case, you will be awarded compensation. You will be awarded a lump sum to represent your pain and suffering, and ‘loss of amenity’ (i.e. the extent to which the abuse has affected your capacity to do the things you used to do, or should have been able to do had you not been abused).

In addition, you can recover any out-of-pocket expenses directly related to your abuse. Some financial losses can be easily valued, such as traveling expenses to medical appointments and the cost of treatment, whilst others are more complicated.

A lost earnings claim can be made if you can prove that your abuse has resulted in your not being able to work.

Time limits on registering your claim

Ideally you must register your compensation claim at court within three years of your abuse occurring, or if you were abused when you were a child, by your 21st birthday.

However the courts are increasingly recognising that it is many years before survivors are able to disclose their abuse. You may therefore be allowed to pursue your claim even when the abuse happened many years ago, so long as this is fair to both you and any potential defendant.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority applications

The other option you have for making a compensation claim is The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). CICA is a body set up by the government to compensate victims of any crime of violence. It makes financial awards to those who have suffered physical and psychological injury caused by a criminal offence committed against them.

There are some special considerations about CICA compensation claims:

  • the general rule is that you must apply to CICA within 2 years of the sexual abuse / assault, although it is possible to persuade CICA to waive this time limit
  • it is necessary to demonstrate that you have reported your abuse to the police and cooperated with all police investigations
  • it is not necessary that criminal proceedings against your abuser are instigated or that your abuser is convicted, so long as their conduct can be shown on a balance of probabilities, to have occurred
  • if you have criminal convictions it is likely that any award made to you will be reduced
  • the sum you are awarded is based on a tariff system and depends on the number of abusers/attackers, the length of time the abuse went on for, and the effect of it on your physical and mental health
  • the maximum award you can expect to receive from CICA is £500,000
  • if you are awarded compensation from CICA, and subsequently succeed in a civil claim, you will have to reimburse CICA for any monies received from CICA
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The abuse Survivor's guide to making a claim for compensation

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Compensation claims through the courts

"Emmott Snell were very accommodating, reassuring me in every move. I’d like to thank Jacqui and co for their hard work in winning my case, I didn’t think I had a case but she made me feel there was. Thank you once again." - Mr SJ

How can we help you with a compensation claim?

We have considerable experience in dealing with compensation claims based on historic sexual abuse, child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.

We can help you pursue a civil claim through the courts or complete your application to the CICA. 

What do I do next?

Contact us. You can arrange a free informal initial consultation using the "Talk to Me" buttons below.

During this consultation, we will discuss the circumstances surrounding your situation, answer any questions you may have, and advise as to whether, in our opinion, you have a legitimate claim with reasonable prospects of success.

Unlike some lawyers we are willing to take on those claims that are not straightforward and may carry some risks. If we do take your case on we shall quickly start the process and endeavour to expedite your claim, seeking maximum compensation.

To arrange a friendly discussion with one of our helpful experts click on the "Talk to Me" buttons below.

Jacqui Morton Emmott Snell

Jacqui Morton

Jacqui is known for her hardworking and careful approach to any legal problem, her excellent rapport with clients and professionals.

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Francesca Cirillo Emmott Snell

Francesca Cirillo

Francesca is known for her willingness to assist, keen eye for detail and is an integral and valued member of the team. She is also fluent in Italian.

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Bernadette James Emmott Snell

Bernadette James

‘Barny’ is recognised for her sympathetic ear and good relationships with our clients. She possesses an ever-cheerful outlook, which clients really appreciate.

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Toslima Islam Emmott Snell

Toslima Islam

As the youngest member of the team, Toslima is known for her willingness to take time to carefully listen to clients. She is fluent in Bengali.

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