I have over 30 years’ experience in bringing CICA claims for abuse victims. Some of my most successful cases have involved re-opening cases where awards have already been made.
I believe that abuse victims at present are missing out on substantial compensation sums by failing to revisit awards that were often made during their childhood.
A case I am dealing with at present illustrates the position well.
Client JB was born in 1996. She was brought up by her mother. In 2003, her mother began a relationship with a new man who moved into their home. He had convictions for sexually assaulting children and, between 2003 and 2005, he subjected JB to serious sexual abuse including rape.
In 2005, JB was eventually removed from her mother’s care and taken into the care of the Local Authority.
The abuser was prosecuted and the Local Authority brought a CICA claim on JB’s behalf. The claim was relatively straightforward and a damages award was made of over £16,500 which was the appropriate tariff for repeated non-consensual intercourse up to 3 years. However, the award took no account of psychiatric injury.
JB has now approached me because she is 25 years of age and suffering terribly from the psychiatric impact of what she went through as a child. She has developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. She is unable to work.
JB’s case is typical of many. Children who are abused at a young age often have CICA claims submitted on their behalf by a Local Authority. At the time the CICA decision is reached, there can be no evidence of the psychiatric impact of the abuse. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common psychiatric injury arising from abuse. This is described by Psychiatrists as “a delayed response to a stressful event”. By its very nature, a delayed response is not something that would be apparent when the CICA make an original award.
Similarly, with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, this is a common injury for abuse victims and, again, is a condition that develops over time. Likewise, an injury of this nature would not be immediately apparent and would not be something that would be compensated for when the original CICA application was considered.
Re-Opening a CICA Claim
The present Scheme allows a Claims Officer to re-open an application after a final award has been made, where there has been so material a change in the medical condition of the Applicant that allowing the original determination to stand would give rise to an injustice to the Applicant.
Many abuse victims will fall into this category. The material change in the medical condition would be the development of PTSD or EUPD. The injustice to the Applicant would be a failure to compensate for this psychiatric injury, which can often cause lifelong difficulties and, in particular, a failure to compensate for the impact on the Claimant’s ability to work. Significant loss of earnings awards are being missed by abuse victims as a result.
When you apply to re-open a claim, the claim can be dealt with under the terms of the Scheme that was in operation when the original award was made. JB is a good example of how this can benefit an Applicant. Under the 2012 CICA Scheme the extent of any loss of earnings claim is very limited. You are compensated at a weekly rate equivalent to statutory sick pay (presently £96.35 per week). Under the older Schemes this cap on earnings did not apply and you would be given a much more generous award. Even at minimum wage level, a loss of earnings claim of over £250 per week may be possible.
I have dealt with various cases where we have applied to re-open and secured significant damages awards primarily because of the loss of earnings entitlement. In one particular case we recovered damages of £1.6 million for a man who had suffered terrible abuse during childhood which had not been compensated at the time of the original application. Following conclusion of this case, I received the following message from the Applicant’s partner;
“X and I would like to express our deep gratitude for all the work you carried out in relation to this matter. We could never have anticipated all the obstacles put in our way and you overcame them all and provided X with an outcome which far exceeded our wildest expectations. We can’t thank you enough and wish you all the best for the future”.
These claims are by no means straightforward. As Client JB’s partner suggests, there are many obstacles to overcome and any claim needs to start with a strong medical report confirming the material change in medical condition of the Applicant between the time of the original application and the application to re-open.
Any historic abuse victim looking to re-open a CICA claim would be strongly advised to seek help from a specialist in this area. To speak to myself or a member of my highly experienced team about the possibility of re-opening your CICA claim, please call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430, complete our online contact from or use our live chat below.