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Crime Victims' Compensation

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What is Meant by “Crime Victims' Compensation”?

In many jurisdictions, victims of certain crimes may receive compensation for their losses resulting from the offense.  This is known as “Crime Victims' Compensation”, and is available to certain victims of specific crimes such as:

  • Assault victims
  • DUI/Hit and run victims
  • Victims of Murder (survivors)
  • Robbery with severe bodily injury
  • Sexual assault victims and other forms of abuse

Crime victim compensation programs are funded through state operated Victim Compensation Funds.  The person applying for the compensation usually needs to file within two years of the injury or death. 

Who is Eligible to Receive Victim Compensation Funds?

Persons who may apply for crime victim compensation typically include:

  • Victims of specified crimes
  • Persons who were injured while assisting police
  • Relatives of the victim (may be limited to certain requirements)
  • Designated decision-makers of some victims
  • Blind or disabled persons whose assistance dog was injured due to a crime

Thus, not only the victim, but also the relatives or survivors of the victim may be eligible for compensation.

What Types of Expenses are Covered?

Crime Victim Compensation usually only covers crime-related expenses, especially those not already covered by other sources such as insurance. 

  • Medical/dental costs associated with the crime
  • Costs of counseling or therapy, especially for victims of abuse
  • Reimbursement for lost wages directly caused by the crime
  • Loss of support for children and other dependents
  • Funeral expenses, up to a certain amount

In many states, crime victim compensation programs allow the victim to receive anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 depending on the nature of the losses.  Crime victim compensation usually doesn’t cover property loss or damage, pain and suffering, lawyer fees, or any non-economic losses.

What are the Requirements for Receiving Crime Victim Compensation?

Eligibility requirements may vary according to the state where the crime occurred, and also according to the nature of the crime itself.  Most state victim compensation statutes require that:

  • The victim’s behavior did not contribute to the criminal incident
  • The victim suffered injury to the body or death as a result of the criminal incident
  • The crime was reported to the police within a certain time (usually 5 days)
  • In cases involving sexual assault, a medical examination was conducted and evidence collection was secured within 72 hours of the incident
  • There are no other sources of payment to cover the stated losses

In some cases, the person receiving the compensation funds may be required to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the prosecution of the offender.  This may include providing eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, or identification of suspects.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Crime Victims' Compensation?

Crime victim compensation can often be complicated, as there are many different requirements to be fulfilled.  If you need assistance with crime victim compensation, it is to your benefit to hire a criminal lawyer in your area.  A qualified criminal attorney can assist you in filing the appropriate documents and evidence.  Also, your lawyer can provide assistance when working with criminal prosecutors and other authorities.  

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-15-2015 11:07 AM PDT

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