A criminal injury claim

Trethowans were instructed by a 17 year old man, to make an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on his behalf for damages following an assault which had left him seriously injured.

Background

Our client had spent an evening out with friends.  At the end of the evening the group went to a house owned by the parents of one of the friends present.  After some time at this house he fell asleep in front of the television in an armchair in the living room.

When he awoke he immediately noticed flames all around him.  He felt extreme pain and burning around his chest and face and began to panic.  It transpired that whilst he had been asleep he had been doused in highly flammable liquid (lighter fuel and windscreen cleaner) and then deliberately set alight.

Injuries

He was initially taken to the Accident & Emergency Department at Southampton General Hospital.  He was placed on a life support machine before being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit and then ultimately to the Burns Unit at Salisbury District Hospital.  He had sustained severe burns to his face, neck, chest, upper arms and forearm.  He underwent surgery to graft skin from his thigh onto his injured arms.

He spent five weeks in hospital and thereafter continued to attend the Burns Unit as an outpatient.  In addition to the physical injuries he also sustained significant psychological injuries as a result of the assault. He suffered from fatigue, lack of energy, low mood and loss of confidence.  He had great difficulties sleeping as he suffered nightmares and flashbacks relating to the assault.

Fortunately his physical injuries healed well over time.  However, he continued to be psychologically affected as a result of the assault.  His family noticed distinct changes in his personality.  A previously easy-going, sociable young man had, since the assault, become quick tempered, argumentative and reclusive.  He reached the stage where he no longer felt safe and comfortable living and working in his home town.  He moved abroad to work.

Police enquiries

The Police were informed of the assault by our client's mother shortly after his admission to hospital.  He co-operated fully with the police's enquiries.  These enquiries ultimately led to two of the group present at the time of the assault being charged and subsequently convicted of Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) in relation to the attack on our client.

Claim

Once all the relevant details and information had been obtained in relation to the assault (including the police records, witness statements and medical records from the hospital and GP) an application was submitted to CICA.  The initial application was rejected by the CICA panel on the grounds that our client had contributed to the incident by consuming alcohol prior to the incident (the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme requires the applicant's conduct before, during and after the incident to be taken into consideration).  In addition, his character was called into question by the fact that he had consumed alcohol (the Scheme also requires the applicant's character to be taken into consideration).

The decision was taken to appeal the decision of the CICA panel.  On applying for review of the decision (the application for review is considered by a more senior CICA case worker) the following points were emphasised and argued on his behalf:

  • He had no previous criminal convictions and was therefore of good character;
  • He was asleep immediately prior to and at the time of the assault.  He had no knowledge of and played no role in either the planning or execution of the assault, nor did he have any opportunity to reason with his attackers or defend himself.  He was entirely unaware that any incident was taking place at all until he awoke to find his clothes were alight.  In the circumstances he could not be held to have contributed to the incident in any way.
  • This was a horrific, unprovoked attack which caused severe physical and psychological injuries.  Through no fault of his own he sustained 25% burns to his upper body, extensive scarring and significant psychological trauma.

The application for review of the original decision was accepted by CICA.  The original decision was overturned and he was granted a full award of compensation in respect of his injuries.  Under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme he was awarded a sum of money in compensation for the 25% burns and psychological trauma caused by the crime of violence perpetrated against him.

Meet the team

Clare Carter
Partner
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426936
07500 935 695
Personal Injury
John Hall
Partner & Head of Occupational Disease
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8082 0526
07881 343953
Personal Injury
Tom Hartigan
Partner
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426969
07917 272 373
Personal Injury
Gavin Lane
Partner & Head of Personal Injury Group
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8082 0535
07884 184 681
Personal Injury
Chris Whiteley
Managing Partner
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426921
07884 184 580
Personal Injury
James Braund
Senior Associate - Personal Injury Solicitor in Poole
Personal Injury
Poole
01202 339014
07887 525 415
Personal Injury
Rhiannon Daniel
Senior Associate
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426923
07879 448 632
Personal Injury
Frances Gillett
Associate
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426956
07880 712459
Personal Injury
Sarah Mills
Consultant
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8032 0405
07801 577120
Personal Injury
Laura Rowe
Solicitor
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8082 0537
Personal Injury
James Gleisner
Chartered Legal Executive
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8082 0465
Personal Injury
Katherine Knapman
Paralegal
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426925
07881 343 962
Personal Injury
Adele Martin
Paralegal
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426975
Personal Injury
Charlotte Harwood
Trainee Solicitor
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426983
Personal Injury
Alison Hutchings
Medical Records Nurse Assessor
Personal Injury
Southampton
+44 (0) 23 8082 0474
Personal Injury
Joan Ferrett
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Southampton
02380 820541
Personal Injury
Amy Gregory
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Southampton
023 8082 0538
Personal Injury
Anna Hagan
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426918
Personal Injury
Lorraine Morrissey
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426931
Personal Injury
Claire Parrett
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Salisbury
01722 426987
Personal Injury
Tanya Reeves
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Poole
01202 339031
Personal Injury
Eleanor Churchill
Legal Secretary
Personal Injury
Southampton
02380 820521
Personal Injury