What is a CRU certificate and why have I received one?
When a defendant insurer is notified of a personal injury claim they are under a legal obligation to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and register the claim. The Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) section of the DWP will then check to see if any benefits have been claimed as a result of the accident and, from time to time the CRU will issue a certificate setting out the amount, if any, of any benefits that need to be repaid at the end of the claim for benefits that the injured person claimed as a result of the injury.
Why has my child received a CRU certificate when they are still at school, or if I am retired and not working?
Defendant insurers have a duty to register all claims with the DWP even when the injured party is a child. The same situation arises with an injured person who was retired at the time of the accident.
Will I have to repay my benefits out of my compensation?
Most CRU certificates that are issued will show a nil amount as falling due at the end of the case. This simply means that the injured person has not claimed any benefits as a result of the accident, so no further action is needed.
If benefits have been claimed as a result of the accident and these can be recovered by the CRU then the parties will need to obtain an up to date CRU certificate before a final settlement can be reached. There are only certain elements of a claim against which benefits can be recovered. Any benefits claimed are not offset against the compensation that you receive for your injuries.
The most common area in which recoverable benefits are claimed is against a loss of earnings claim. Your loss of earnings will be claimed in full against the other side and if there are any benefits to be repaid the defendant will deduct these from the total loss of earnings claimed and account to the claimant for the balance. The deducted element will be repaid to the CRU by the defendants.
This leaves you, the claimant, in the same position as if you had been paid in full for your loss of earnings. The claimant does not have to take any further action with regards to recoverable benefits, it is the defendant insurer that will make this repayment to the CRU. If hospital treatment has been received the defendant insurer may also have to make a payment towards those NHS costs but this is something that neither the claimant nor their representatives is a party to as it has no impact on the valuation of a claim.
If this procedure was not followed then the injured person would have claimed their loss of earnings and made a claim for benefits and as a result recovered more than they were entitled to for this element of the claim. This is known as double recovery and is not allowed.
Other common elements of claim against which benefits can be offset are the cost of care and loss of mobility where these form part of the claim.
What happens if I have agreed to accept some responsibility for the accident (contributory negligence)?
Even where there has been an agreement between the parties as to a split of liability or a similar finding by the Court, then the full amount of recoverable benefits will still need to be deducted from the relevant parts of the claim. The CRU will not take finding a contributory negligence into account when looking to recover any benefits claimed as a result of the accident. In cases such as this it is important to remember that the amount that is recovered by the CRU cannot exceed the amount claimed for that part of the claim e.g. loss of earnings, etc.
What if is was already receiving benefits before the accident?
The only benefits that the CRU are interested in are those that were received as a result of your accident. Any benefits that you were receiving before the accident will not be taken into account as you did not receive these as a result of the accident.
Will this affect my right to claim benefits in the future?
If you received benefits as a result of an accident that was not your fault there will be no impact on your right to apply for benefits in the future should your circumstances change.
However the rules about eligibility for means tested benefits will still apply so if you have savings and assets worth over £16,000 (including any compensation that you received as a result of an injury claim) then you will not be eligible for means tested benefits. The DWP is able to disregard any assets that you have above this sum if they arose as a result of a personal injury claim and if they have been put into a personal injury trust.
If you would like to find out further information, please contact Emma Saville on [email protected]