In a salutary warning to victims of violent crime that they should seek legal advice without delay, a man who suffered life-changing injuries when thugs smacked his head against a brick wall will go without a penny in compensation after he left it too late to lodge his claim with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The man was brutally attacked in May 2007, suffering multiple fractures to his jaw and other injuries. Later that year, he had the first of many epileptic seizures which were expected to blight the rest of his life. The link between the assault and his traumatic epilepsy was only made by a neurologist in September 2009.
He sought a payout from CICA after the neurologist informed him of the existence of the criminal injuries compensation scheme. However, his claim was rejected on the basis that he had delayed beyond the statutory two-year time limit before lodging it. That decision was subsequently upheld by the First-tier and Upper Tribunals.
In dismissing his challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal noted that he was aware that he had suffered personal injury on the day of the assault. Although the link to his epilepsy was only made at a later date, it would have been reasonable to expect him to have made a claim within two years of the attack.
The Court acknowledged that strict adherence to the time limit meant that ‘some apparently deserving victims may fall through the compensation net’. However, that was no good reason for placing a strained interpretation on the terms of the CICA scheme.