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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
How 7 July compensation works
Garri Holness
Garri Holness lost a leg in the attacks, a level 20 (44,000) injury
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has sent its first two compensation cheques to victims of the 7 July attacks in London.

CICA has so far offered interim payments totalling 400,000 to 22 victims.

BBC News looks at CICA's system of compensation.

It is understood 209 people who were injured or suffered the death of a loved one in the bombings have applied for compensation.

The families of those killed in the attacks will be eligible for 11,000 each under CICA's compensation scheme.

If more than one claimant per death is granted compensation, however, the figure is reduced to 5,500 each.

11 September

The amount compares with an average $2m (1.13m) for each death claim made by families of 11 September victims to the US government.

Supporters of the scheme argue that the sum given to victims' families should not be seen as the value of a life but as a "token of public sympathy".

COMPENSATION LEVELS
11,000 basic pay-out for lost loved one
2,000 a year for dependent children
Financial dependents may get bigger payment for loss
500,000 maximum payment
1,000 to 250,000 payments for serious injuries
Loss of earnings for injured maximum 31,000 yearly
500,000 maximum payout for injury
Trauma payments from 1,000 to 27,000. Maximum 500,000

The Home Office pays out more than 200m a year under the scheme to thousands of crime victims and says it is one of the "most generous" such systems in the world.

Following news of the payment to victims of the London bombers, the Victims of Crime Trust called for higher levels of compensation.

The scheme has also faced criticism in the past from some victims' families.

'An insult'

One relative of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor called the compensation available "an insult".

Meanwhile, lawyers for seven-year-old Ewan Marrin - who was left partially paralysed and blind in one eye by his mother's ex-boyfriend - criticised his 500,000 payment.

They said the sum, which is the maximum amount that can be awarded under the scheme, was not adequate for the boy's lifetime care.

Personal injury cases in the civil courts could attract three times the payment, they said.

For example, earlier this year a judge awarded 10-year-old William Gaudie, who was born brain damaged, 3.3m in damages, saying the amount was needed for "a lifetime of care".

The family of one of the four victims of the Hatfield rail crash victim Stephen Arthur received 1m damages at the High Court.

His widow was awarded the payout by Railtrack, which admitted liability.

Twenty-five levels

The criminal compensation "tariff" system was introduced in 1996 and updated in 2001.

There are 25 levels of awards within the scheme ranging from 1,000 to 250,000 (25 levels), depending on the injuries sustained.

Extra compensation for "special expenses", such as accommodation adaptations or private healthcare can be given if a victim has been unable to work for longer than 28 weeks.

A maximum total figure of 500,000 can be paid to survivors who are seriously debilitated and claim for loss of earnings and care costs as well as compensation.

Paul Dadge and Davinia
Paul Dadge helped Davinia from the bomb scene at Edgware Road

All injuries, whether physical or psychological, need to be verified.

For example, minor injuries fall under level one compensation (1,000). To be eligible, victims must have suffered three injuries such as a black eye, loss of a fingernail or a bloody nose.

At least one of those minor injuries must have had "significant residual effects" six weeks after the incident.

The injuries must also have necessitated at least two visits to or by a medical practitioner within that six-week period.

Extremely serious brain damage could result in the top award of 250,000 (level 25).

Martine Wright, 32, who lost both legs in the Aldgate blast, is expected to receive 110,000 (level 23).

Davinia Turrell, became known to millions across the world as "the woman in the mask" after being photographed clutching a surgical burns mask to her face as she fled the bombing near Edgware Road Tube station.

Ms Turrell could be entitled to 27,000 (level 18) for severe burns to her face or, if the burns had covered more than 25% of her body, 33,000 (level 19).

Application process

To apply to the compensation scheme, applicants must provide details of when and where the incident occurred and their crime reference number, as well as details of the police officer who handled their case.

We are determined that they receive the compensation they are entitled to as quickly as possible
Howard Webber
CICA

They must also provide details of their medical treatment and expenses, including dates and addresses.

There is an eligibility questionnaire on CICA's website which crime victims can fill out to see whether to proceed with an application.

Eligibility can be affected if victims failed to inform the police or other relevant authorities of the circumstances leading to their injury, or if they failed to co-operate in bringing their assailant to justice.

It is not necessary for someone to have actually been convicted of a criminal offence in order for a payment to be made to a victim.

Once they have applied they will be given a personal reference number by Cica and the details of their caseworker.

On its website, CICA says it aims to provide a decision in 90% of cases within 12 months of receiving the application. It says, on average, claims are resolved within 8 months.

Applicants can lodge an appeal with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel if they are unhappy with the outcome.

Northern Ireland has a separate organisation - the Compensation Agency - to administer criminal injuries, criminal damages and Terrorism Act compensation.

After the 1998 Omagh bombing, the agency gave bereavement awards of 7,500 to the spouses of the victims or - where a victim was under 18-years-old and never married - to their parents.




SEE ALSO:
End compensation culture - Blair
26 May 05 |  UK Politics


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