Did you or a loved one suffer injuries due to crime in California? Financial compensation may be available to cover your past and future losses.
- You may be eligible to file a private civil lawsuit
- Claim damages through California's Victim Compensation Board
- Don't hesitate - time may be limited
Our committed crime injury attorneys are here to help. Learn more about your legal options by contacting our lawyers now for a free consultation.
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Hundreds of thousands of Californians suffer severe injuries every year due to violent crime. Thankfully, the State's criminal justice system offers financial assistance to many of these people, helping victims and their families begin to rebuild in the wake of horrific violations of their privacy and safety.
Securing Compensation From California's Victim Compensation Fund
The California Victim Compensation Board is a program, managed by the State's Government Operations Agency, through which crime victims and their loved ones can claim certain monetary damages in the wake of a violent crime. Every year, the Board pays out millions of dollars in financial compensation, helping victims pay immediate expenses and bills incurred as a result of crime.
Victim Compensation Eligibility
California's Victim Compensation Board is designed to provide financial support to victims (and certain family members of victims) who were injured during the commission of violent crimes. Anyone who is injured in a crime that occurred in California is eligible to apply for compensation, as are California residents injured in other states or countries. Eligibility is closed to people who committed the crime itself, if the crime could be charged as a felony, or were "involved in events leading to the crime."
You don't need to be the "direct" victim of a crime to claim financial compensation. Alongside direct victims, family members and financial dependents who suffer a financial loss due to violent crime may also be able to make a claim. According to the Victim Compensation Board, the following third-party claimants are eligible to submit applications for compensation:
- Spouses or domestic partners
- Fiancé of the victim
- Legal guardians
- Caretakers of minor victims
Beyond these broad categories, California defines a few more-specific types of people who may be eligible to secure compensation:
- Fiancé of a family member who witnessed the crime
- Minors who witness domestic violence or who live in a home where domestic violence is committed
- "A person living with the victim at the time of the crime, or who had previously lived with the victim for at least two years in a relationship similar to a parent, grandparent, spouse, sibling, child or grandchild of the victim"
- Assumes who assumes legal responsibility for the expenses of a deceased crime victim or pays for their medical, funeral or burial costs out of pocket
What Crimes Are Covered In California?
As a general category, the State defines "violent" crimes as any illegal acts that "result in physical injury or a threat of physical injury to the victim." Compensation for property crimes, in the absence of a violent element, are generally not covered by the program. Even so, California's program is more expansive than most other state victim compensation funds. To illustrate the scope of its compensation program, the California Victim Compensation Board lists the following types of crime, all of which are eligible for claims:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Child abuse and / or sexual assault
- Child endangerment and abandonment
- Domestic violence
- Driving under the influence (i.e. DUI car accident injuries)
- Elder abuse
- Hate crimes
- Human trafficking
- Hit and run
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Unlawful sexual intercourse
- Online Harassment
In some cases, California's Victim Compensation Board will award damages to claimants who suffered some form of emotional injury, despite the absence of physical injuries.
Filing Rules & Requirements
In order to file a claim, victims and other applicants are required to follow several important rules.
Like all crime victim compensation programs, California's fund is meant to encourage victims and other members of the public to step forward and report criminal activity. As a result, victims who wish to apply for compensation must report the crime to the appropriate authorities within a reasonable period of time, though exceptions can be applied in specific circumstances.
In a broader sense, California's program requires you to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the criminal offender. Failing to cooperate with the authorities can result in the denial of your claim.
You have a limited amount of time to file your claim for compensation, although California's time limits are fairly lenient.
To secure damages, you must file your claim within 3 years after the crime, or within 3 years of the date you discovered that you had been injured by a crime, whichever date comes later.
Time Limits For Minor Victims
A separate rule governs claims filed by or on behalf of minors who were injured due to crime. In these cases, the application must be filed within 3 years of the minor victim's 18th birthday.
Sex crimes involving minors are treated differently. Children who suffer sexual abuse have until 3 years after their 28th birthday to file their application.
Filing After The Deadline
Already missed the deadline? You can still file a claim, but you'll have to include this Late Filing Consideration form along with your application. That additional form attempts to evaluate whether or not you participated in the conviction of a criminal offender, and how doing so affected you emotionally.
How Much Compensation Does California's Program Offer?
California's crime victim compensation program is the "payer-of-last-resort" for crime-related expenses. Before receiving compensation from the fund, you must first exhaust your other sources of financing, including government health programs (like Medicare or Medicaid), insurance policies and the proceeds from a civil lawsuit.
Covered Losses & Compensation Limits
California's Victim Compensation Board limits awards to a select assortment of losses incurred as a direct result of crime. $70,000 is the maximum amount of allowed compensation, though certain damage types have their own limits to consider:
- Medical expenses - maximum of $70,000
- hospital bills
- doctor's appointments
- prosthetic devices
- hearing aids
- Mental health services - $10,000 (up to 40 hours of counseling sessions)
- Home modification - maximum of $70,000
- Vehicle modification or purchase of accessible vehicle - $30,000
- Service dog - $10,000
- Lost income - maximum of $70,000 (available for financial dependents of the victim)
- Funeral and burial expenses - $7,500
- Relocation costs - $2,000 (victim must demonstrate that relocation is necessary for their safety, emotional well-being or both)
- Crime scene cleanup - $1,000
- Home security - $1,000
- Job retraining services - maximum of $70,000
California's Victim Compensation Board does not pay for property damage or losses, even if your property was stolen or broken during the commission of a crime.