Struggling to keep up with expenses after a violent crime? Florida's crime victim compensation program may be able to help.
- Medical and counseling bills
- Lost wages and financial support
- Funeral, cremation and burial expenses
You may also be entitled to pursue a civil lawsuit, filing suit for financial compensation in a private case. To lean more about legal options outside the criminal justice system, call our attorneys today for a free consultation.
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Every year, thousands of Florida residents benefit from services offered by the State's Bureau of Victim Compensation. The office manages a crime victims' compensation program, providing financial assistance to the victims of crime and their families.
Applying For Victims Compensation In Florida
Victims of crime can apply to the Bureau of Victim Compensation for funding to cover a limited range of expenses incurred as a direct result of their crime-related physical injuries and emotional trauma. To learn more about filing a claim for compensation through Florida's victims' assistance program, visit their Crime Victims' Services page. You can find a copy of the application here.
Who Is Eligible?
Florida offers compensation to a wide range of individuals, not just the direct victims of crime.
- Direct victims, who suffered physical injury (or, in some limited cases, psychological harm alone) due to crime
- Intervenors, or Good Samaritans, who were injured while attempting to prevent or disrupt a crime
- Legal guardians, including parents, filing for compensation on behalf of a minor or legally-incompetent person
- Minors present at the scene of a crime who suffered psychological trauma
- Minor victims of child abuse who suffer psychological harm
- Relatives who lost a loved one to crime
Exemptions & Restrictions
There are several broad exemptions, defining categories of people who are not allowed to claim compensation through Florida's victims compensation program:
- victims who were engaged in unlawful activity at the time of the crime
- victims who engaged in conduct that contributed to the situation in which they were injured
Generally, the Bureau of Victim Compensation will rely on police reports to determine whether or not an applicant contributed to the unsafe situation. A more specific range of exemptions bar many criminal offenders from filing for compensation:
- victims who were confined or in the custody of a county or municipal facility, state or federal correctional facility or a juvenile detention center at the time of the injury
- victims who have been deemed habitual felony offenders, habitual violent offenders or violent career criminals by the State of Florida
- victims who have been judged guilty of a forcible felony offense
The Florida Bureau of Victim Compensation performs a criminal background check for all applicants.
Crime Reporting & Deadlines
Florida's victim compensation program is designed, in large part, as a way of encouraging victims to come forward and report crimes to the appropriate authorities.
In order to make a claim, victims are required to demonstrate that the crime in question was reported to law enforcement officials within 72 hours. In addition, victims who pursue compensation are required to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation, arrest and prosecution of the criminal. No conviction is necessary to secure compensation.
Applications must be filed with 1 year of the crime's occurrence, though this time limit can be extended to a maximum of 2 years in some instances. Minor victims are generally exempted from these time requirements. Victims of domestic violence who pursue compensation to finance a relocation must submit their application within 30 days of the last incident.
What You Need To Apply
Florida's Bureau of Victim Compensation requires thorough documentation of all crime-related expenses. Make sure to keep all of your medical bills and, if applicable, obtain a note from your employer to prove that you've been unable to work.
Proof Of Insurance Acceptance Or Denial
You'll also have to submit evidence of payments from third-party sources, since Florida's compensation program acts only as a "payer-of-last-resort." That means you have to run through all of your other options for financing before Florida's fund will award any compensation. Insurance policies (both private and public, like Medicaid and Medicare), workers' compensation benefits and civil lawsuit judgments must be exhausted prior to grant of an award from the Bureau of Victim Compensation.
To file a claim, applicants must file both itemized bills, to prove their crime-related expenses, and acceptance or denial letters from all of their third-party financing sources.
What Damages Can I Claim?
Needless to say, all claims for compensation must relate directly to the crime in question. In order to file an application for financing, you will have to submit a police report to substantiate the crime.
- Medical expenses - including hospital bills, doctor's appointments, prescriptions, dentures, eyeglasses and prosthetic devices
- Non-medical remedial care - chiropractor sessions and in-home care
- Mental health counseling
- Lost wages - if you were unable to work due to your own injuries or, in the event that you child was injured due to crime, because you were busy caring for your child
- Lost financial support - in the event of a loved one's crime-related death, surviving financial dependents may be able to secure compensation
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Relocation expenses - victims of domestic violence, sexual battery and / or human trafficking may be eligible to secure financing for their relocation to escape unsafe living arrangements
- temporary lodging
- utility deposits
- new cell phone service
- transportation costs
- moving company bills
- emergency food and clothing
Property Loss & Damage
In most cases, Florida doesn't offer victim compensation for property damage or lost property. With that being said, there is an exception for crime victims over the age of 60 and victims with disabilities.
For these individuals, Florida's compensation program offers limited awards to reimburse victims for their lost property, though only certain forms of tangible property are eligible. Florida imposes a $1,000 lifetime limit on claims for lost or damaged personal property, along with a $500 limit for each individual claim.
Florida also offers additional compensation for victims who suffer a permanent disability due to crime. To secure compensation for relocation, victims must submit a certified claim for funding directly through either a domestic violence center or rape crisis center in Florida.
Requesting Emergency Assistance
It can take weeks or months for the Florida Bureau of Victim Compensation to process a claim. Need immediate financing? You may be able to secure emergency assistance to help you cover short-term bills or expenses.
You can apply for emergency assistance and normal compensation using the same form. If you require immediate support, just check the "Emergency Assistance" box at the top of the compensation form and attach the receipts you need to have reimbursed.