The Virginia Victims Fund: Crime Victims Assistance

The Virginia Victims Fund: Crime Victims Assistance2018-11-09T16:07:38+00:00
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Virginia's Victims Fund offers up to $25,000 in financial reimbursement to the innocent victims of crime and certain family members, helping victims cover a limited range of crime-related expenses.

  • Health insurance co-pays and deductibles
  • Mental health counseling sessions
  • Lost wages

Eligible victims and families may also be able to file a private civil lawsuit and pursue damages. To learn more about your legal rights, contact our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.

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Through the Virginia Victims Fund, people injured by violent crimes in Virginia may be able to secure financial compensation for their out-of-pocket expenses. The Virginia Victims Fund helps crime victims and their loved ones cover eligible crime-related expenses that aren't covered by other funding sources, like health insurance. A maximum award of $25,000 may be available to victims and certain family members who meet the program's eligibility requirements.

Crime Victims' Compensation In Virginia

The Virginia Victims Fund covers a variety of crime-related expenses, as outlined in State law. As a payer-of-last-resort, the program is designed to reimburse victims and their families for bills and other fees that collateral sources of funding are unable, or unwilling, to pay for.

Farm In Rural Virginia

Victims are required to turn to these additional funding sources, including health and life insurance policies, most government benefits and civil lawsuit proceeds, before submitting a claim for compensation through the Virginia Victims Fund.

Additional Funding Sources

Here's a full list of collateral funding sources, as defined by Virginia law, that will be considered in processing your application:

  • Health insurance policies
  • Homeowners' insurance
  • Renters' insurance
  • Automobile insurance
  • Charity health care
  • Social security benefits [TANF ("food stamps") are not considered]
  • Medicare and Medicaid
  • Disability insurance
  • Workers' compensation benefits
  • Life insurance
  • Funeral insurance
  • Income from a deceased victim's estate in excess of $25,000
  • Sick leave or short-term disability leave
  • Court-ordered restitution
  • Charitable donations and contributions

Again, you must attempt to secure reimbursement through these collateral funding sources before the Virginia Victims Fund will approve your claim. If the Fund finds that one of your claims was reimbursed through another funding source, your total award will be reduced by the amount covered by your collateral source.

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Arrest, Prosecution Not Required

Neither arrest nor prosecution are required. Victims have every right to submit a claim through the Virginia Victims Fund, even in cases when law enforcement officials have failed to identify a criminal suspect.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For Compensation?

Virginia's crime victim compensation program is open to anyone who suffered personal physical injuries due to a crime committed in Virginia; it's not just for residents of Virginia.

In most cases, crimes committed outside Virginia are not eligible for compensation, but there are several important exceptions.

Covered Out-Of-State Crimes

The Fund will provide reimbursement to Virginia residents who were injured due to acts of terrorism committed abroad, but these victims must first attempt to secure compensation through the International Terrorism Victims' Expense Reimbursement Program, a federal fund designed specifically for this purpose.

The second exception is for Virginia residents who are injured due to crimes (as defined by Virginia law) in foreign countries that "do not have funding mechanisms for crime victims."

Surviving Family Members

Compensation is also generally available to the surviving family members (spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child and other legal dependents) of victims who are killed due to crime.

Emotional / Psychological Injuries

Victims who have suffered only emotional injuries, including psychological trauma, may also be eligible to apply, but only in limited circumstances. The reimbursement of expenses incurred due to a psychological injury is restricted to victims who suffered their injuries due to a violent felony offense, robbery, abduction or stalking.

Good Samaritans

"Good Samaritans" can apply for compensation, too. If you were injured while attempting to prevent a crime, or trying to apprehend a criminal suspect, you may be able to have your out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed through the Virginia Victims Fund.

Ineligible Injury Victims

Compensation is not available to law enforcement officers who were injured while performing their employment duties. The Virginia Victims Fund is closed to injury victims who participated in the criminal activity during which they were injured.

What Counts As A Crime?

What is a crime? In most jurisdictions, state compensation programs limit eligibility to victims of violent crime, but Virginia's system takes a broader approach.

For the purposes of the Virginia Victims Fund, "crime" is defined as "an act committed by any person in the Commonwealth of Virginia which would constitute a crime as defined by the Code of Virginia or at common law."

That's a very general definition, encompassing crimes from assault and battery to arson. Needless to say, child sexual abuse, murder, robbery and all other serious crimes fit the bill.

Does The Virginia Victims Fund Cover Property Damage?

No.

Property crimes are not covered by the Virginia Victims Fund. The program does not reimburse victims for property loss or damage, with one exception. As provided in federal law, the victims' compensation program will provide reimbursement for the "replacement of windows and locks of the victim's residence damaged as a result of a crime."

Motor Vehicle Accidents

A broad exception also applies to most injurious acts involving motor vehicles, including accidental car crashes. Most car-related injuries can't be compensated through the Virginia Victims Fund, but there are also exceptions to this exception:

  • DUI / DWI accidents
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Intentional injury by motor vehicle (using a car as a weapon)

These three types of car accident are eligible for compensation through the Virginia Victims Fund.

Broad Range Of Eligible Expenses

As we noted earlier, the maximum award that can be paid to any single applicant is limited to $25,000. In most cases, the Virginia Victims Fund will send claim payments directly to a service provider, rather than the victim or their family.

  • Medical and dental expenses - $25,000 maximum
    • Hospital and surgical bills
    • Prescription medications
    • Medical supplies (excluding over-the-counter medications)
    • Health insurance co-pays and deductibles
  • Mental health counseling (available for direct victims and survivors of homicide victims) - up to 20 sessions, with some exceptions
  • Alternative therapies (given independent empirical evidence of safety and efficacy) - up to 20 sessions
  • Lost wages (in cases of physical or psychological disability) - $600 per week maximum
  • Lost financial support (available for dependents of a homicide or domestic violence victim) - $600 per week maximum
  • Lost household services
  • Transportation expenses
    • available to-and-from medical and mental health appointments
    • available to-and-from court appearances only for minor victims
  • Funeral, burial and cremation expenses - $5,000 expenses
  • Crime scene clean-up
  • Moving expenses (when necessary to preserve health and safety of victim) - $2,000 maximum
  • Home security modifications

The Virginia Victims Fund only considers claims over $100 in value, but you can bundle multiple claims into the same application to meet or exceed the $100 minimum. If you submit a claim over $100, but the Fund discovers that some of the claimed expenses have been covered by other funding sources (bringing your claim below the $100 level), the program will still consider your claim.

Reporting & Application Filing Deadlines

To become eligible for compensation, victims are required to report the crime within 5 days (120 hours) of its occurrence. Some exceptions may apply for "good cause," which must be explained in writing during the application process. In the case of sexual assault, submitting to a forensic examination ("rape kit") counts as reporting and satisfies the Virginia Victims Fund's reporting requirement.

In most cases, victims are required to file their application for compensation within 1 year of the crime, though exceptions can be applied to allow for "good cause" delays. In cases of homicide, surviving family members have 1 year from the date of their loved one's death.

Minor Victims

The deadline is "tolled" (or paused) for child victims of crime. Minors who have been injured due to crime are given until 1 year after their 18th birthday, or 1 year after they become legally emancipated, whichever dates come first, to file an application. Victims of childhood sexual abuse are provided even longer, up until their 28th birthday, to submit claims.

Submitting An Application

To begin your application, you can download a copy of the form here. Work through the application carefully, making sure to complete it as thoroughly as possible. You'll also need to include additional documents that substantiate the claims you're making. Be sure to attach any itemized bills, receipts and insurance statements that you have.

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