A case study of an abuse claim that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority accepted 'out of time'.
We recently represented a woman who had suffered serious sexual abuse for a period of around two years when she was a child. The abuse was perpetrated by a close family friend and escalated over time.
The man made frightening threats designed to intimidate our client and disuade her from from disclosing the abuse.
However, the abuse did eventually come to light and the Police were involved.
When she reached adulthood she did not feel well enough to consider pursuing a compensation claim. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has a two year time limit within which adult victims are expected to bring a claim. If the matter is reported to the Police when the victim is a child, the time limit will expire on their 20th birthday, which is two years from the date on which they reach adulthood. However, in this case our client did not seek any legal advice regarding a claim until she was 23 years of age, so the time limit had already expired by that point.
Nevertheless, it is possible for the Compensation Authority to extend the time limit, though this will only be done when they are persuaded that exceptional circumstances apply.
In our initial assessment of the case, specialist abuse lawyer Rachel Thain felt the facts of the case did amount to exceptional circumstances and that it would be possible to overcome the time limit hurdle. Rachel therefore agreed to take the case on and offered to pursue it on a no win no fee basis.
Rachel then set about gathering evidence in support of the claim. this involved her obtaining Police records and the woman's medical notes. These documents revealed the significant effect of the abuse on our client’s mental health and well-being. They also enabled Rachel to make submissions to the CICA explaining the reasons for the delay. She explained that our client’s mental health difficulties had prevented her from being able to think about applying for compensation sooner.
Fortunately, Rachel's legal arguments were accepted by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. As a result the CICA agreed to extend the time limit.
Rachel was then able to go on to recover a substantial sum of compensation on our client's behalf.