South Carolina's crime victim compensation fund financial reimbursement, up to $15,000, to eligible victims of crime and family members.
- Medical care
- Mental health counseling
- Lost wages
Some victims may also be eligible to pursue financial compensation through the civil justice system. To learn more about filing a private crime injury lawsuit, contact our experienced lawyers now.
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Operated under the South Carolina Attorney General's Office, the Department of Crime Victim Compensation offers up to $15,000 in total compensation to eligible crime victims and their loved ones. South Carolina's crime victim assistance program is designed to reduce the physical, emotional and financial burdens of violent crime, by providing victims and certain family members with financial reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses.
There is no requirement that a criminal suspect be arrested or prosecuted. Victims in South Carolina have every right to apply for financial compensation, even if the police never identify a suspect.
Who Is Eligible For Crime-Related Reimbursement?
South Carolina's compensation fund is open to anyone who suffered physical or psychological injuries due to a violent crime committed in South Carolina. Both residents of South Carolina and out-of-state residents are eligible to apply, so long as the crime occurred in South Carolina.
South Carolina residents who are injured due to violent crime in another state should apply for victims' assistance through the state in which they were injured. If that state doesn't have its own compensation program, financial reimbursement may be available from South Carolina's Crime Victim Compensation Program.
The Department of Crime Victim Compensation is required by South Carolina to consider the victim's own behavior in determining eligibility. Victims who contributed to the crime or caused their own injuries may have their awards reduced or denied entirely.
Compensation is generally reserved for violent crime, in which force or the threat of force is inflicted on a victim, resulting in physical or psychological injuries:
- Assault and battery
- Robbery and burglary
- Sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse
- Child physical abuse
- Human trafficking
With that being said, South Carolina's program doesn't outline a list of eligible crimes. Car accidents are only covered if they include a criminal element, as in DUI / DWI or hit-and-run accidents.
Compensation Types & Restrictions
The South Carolina Department of Crime Victim Compensation provides financial reimbursement for a limited range of crime-related expenses, focusing on medical care. The program does not provide reimbursement for property damage or property loss, pain and suffering or victim relocation. Maximum awards are capped at $15,000 by South Carolina law, but, as we'll see, several individual expense types come with their own limits:
- Medical and dental care
- Hospital bills
- Doctor's appointments
- Health insurance co-pays and deductibles
- Prescription medications
- Transportation to-and-from medical appointments
- Mental health counseling - up to 40 sessions or 180 days
- Transportation to-and-from counseling sessions
- Lost wages (available only to victims who have missed at least 2 consecutive weeks of work)
- Lost financial support (available to surviving dependents of a homicide victim)
- Funeral, burial and cremation expenses - $4,000 maximum
The program does not reimburse expenses related to transportation to-and-from court appearances.
In the event of homicide, surviving family members are eligible to apply for compensation to cover any outstanding medical expenses incurred prior to their loved one's death, so long as those medical expenses were a result of the crime. Families may also be able to secure compensation for grief counseling, lost financial support and funeral expenses.
Claim Minimum & Exceptions
Every claim submitted to the Department of Crime Victim Compensation must exceed $100 to be considered. Claims below $100 will not be covered, so you may have to "bundle" multiple claims together to meet the requirement. The $100 minimum is waived for claims made by crime victims who are 65 years or older, and can be waived "in the interest of justice."
Awards Reduced Due To Collateral Funding
The crime victims' assistance program operates as a "payer of last resort." It reimburses crime-related expenses that other funding sources don't. In covering your expenses, you should turn to additional sources of funding first:
- health insurance
- auto insurance
- life insurance
- Social Security
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Workers' compensation benefits
- Sick leave / sick pay
- Disability benefits
- Court-ordered restitution
- Civil lawsuit settlements and judgments
The Department of Crime Victim Compensation steps in after these other funding sources have been exhausted. The program pays for out-of-pocket expenses, financial losses that aren't reimbursed through some other source. Claims will be reduced in proportion to the amount paid out by a collateral source.
Time Limits & Other Requirements
To be eligible for compensation, the crime must be reported to appropriate law enforcement officials within 48 hours of its occurrence, though this time limit can be waived for "good cause" (e.g. child victim, domestic violence).
Your initial application for compensation must be filed within 180 days of the crime, so don't wait until all of your crime-related bills have arrived. As new expenses come up, you can continue to make additional claims until 4 years after the crime, but your initial application must be filed within 180 days.
Victims are also required to cooperate with law enforcement officials in their investigation, arrest and conviction of the criminal suspect, if applicable. Remember, however, that no arrest or conviction is required.
Starting An Application
Ready to apply? You can find a PDF copy of the application form here. After printing the form out, read the instructions carefully. Pay particular attention to the instructions in red, which describe all of the additional documents you'll need to provide.
Depending on the expenses you claim, you may need to print out some additional forms, like the Employer's Report, and have them completed by someone else. The Employer's Report, for example, must be completed by your employer if you want reimbursement for your lost wages. Similar documents must be filled out for funeral expenses, mental health counseling and medical services.
You'll have to gather a number of supporting documents to complete the application, including itemized bills and receipts for the expenses that you're claiming. You should also attach any insurance statements you've received, along with a copy of the police report that was generated when you reported the crime. If you didn't report the crime within the 48 hour deadline, prepare a statement to explain why.
When you're ready, you can send the form and all of your substantiating documents to:
Department of Crime Victim Compensation Edgar A. Brown Building 1205 Pendleton Street, Room 401 Columbia, South Carolina 29201
If you need help completing the form, reach out to the Department for Crime Victim Compensation or a local victim advocate for assistance. You can find a victim advocate through your local police office or Attorney General's office.