In an echo of ancient customary laws where deliberate injury was considered to be a private matter of compensation between families rather than a state crime, Toby's widow successfully sued her brother-in-law for compensation for the distress, grief and sorrow endured by her and her three children together with the loss of financial support, guidance and society.
This unusual action reminds us that a victim of violence will always be entitled to claim compensation. The only question is whether or not the perpetrator has the financial means to make payment to the individual or is "a man of straw". If the victim dies as a result of the crime, the right to raise an action would pass to their executor.
Compensation paid by the State
An alternative option open to a victim may be to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA operates a government fund which compensates blameless victims of violent crime. Survivors who have been physically or mentally injured as a result of a crime are entitled to be paid compensation in accordance with a tariff scale of compensation levels depending upon the seriousness of the injuries involved. In general the size of awards are more limited and can be significantly less than that awarded by the courts.
Following the notorious murder in Aberdeen of Lithuanian supermarket worker Roman Romasov by a colleague Robert McCulloch who was motivated by racial hatred, Roman's family raised an action against McCulloch's employer Sainsbury's on the basis that they were liable as employer for McCulloch's attack which happened in the course of his shift in their store. It was alleged that Sainsbury's was made aware of some of the physical and racial abuse suffered by the victim in the months preceding his murder and ought to have done more to protect Roman. However, the court ultimately held that Sainsbury's were not vicariously liable for the actions of their employee as his actions were not sufficiently connected to his employment with Sainsbury's. If, as was the case here, the employee has no means to make payment of damages to the family himself, their only recourse is a Criminal Injuries claim with restricted awards and tighter time limits.
It is however the case that many victims could successfully recover damages against their attacker but fail to appreciate that the same remedies open to someone injured through negligence apply to victims of deliberate acts of violence.