Washington, D.C.'s victim compensation program offers limited financial reimbursement to help crime victims and their loved ones in the wake of serious injuries.
- Medical bills and lost wages
- Emergency food and housing
- Funeral and burial expenses
Some crime victims may also be eligible to file a private civil lawsuit and pursue a wider range of damages, including pain and suffering compensation. For more information, contact our committed lawyers today.
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Crime victims in Washington, D.C. may be eligible to secure financial assistance through the Crime Victims Compensation Program. Covering a wide range of financial expenses, the Crime Victims Compensation Program provides reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses due to violent crime. The money comes from fines and fees assessed against convicted criminal offenders, along with federal grants.
Washington, D.C.'s Victim Assistance Fund
Compensation is available to all victims who suffered injuries due to violent crime in Washington, D.C., not just residents of the city. Some family members may also be eligible for assistance in the event of a loved one's crime-related death. D.C. residents who are injured or killed due to terrorism or mass violence outside the United States are also eligible to apply.
Injury victims who participated in, agreed to or provoked the crime in which they were injured are not eligible for compensation.
Covered Criminal Offenses
Most states outline a broad category of criminal offenses, usually "violent crime," that are eligible for financial compensation. Washington, D.C. is more specific, providing applicants with a detailed list of 23 eligible crimes:
- Acts of terrorism
- Assault, including assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, assault on a police officer, assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to commit any offense
- Benefitting financially from human trafficking
- Child cruelty
- Forced labor
- Homicide and negligent homicide
- Maliciously misconfiguring
- Reckless driving / hit-and-run
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual assault / trafficking
- Unlawful use of an explosive
- Dissemination or detonation of a weapon of mass destruction
In general, losses due solely to property crime, including lost and damaged property, are not covered. Cases of theft, without personal injury, and unlawful entry are also not considered.
Deadlines: Reporting Crime & Filing Applications
To secure eligibility, crime victims and their families are required to comply with several time limits. As with other state crime victim compensation programs, D.C.'s system is designed to encourage victims to come forward and report crimes. Crimes must be reported within 7 days of the incident, generally through a police report. There are three exceptions, though the 7 day deadline applies in each case:
- Domestic violence victims can seek a civil protection order from the D.C. Superior Court
- Sexual assault victims can obtain a sexual assault examination at a medical facility
- A neglect petition can be filed in the Superior Court on behalf of child cruelty victims
All three of these options will satisfy the Crime Victims Compensation Program's reporting requirement. Alongside the reporting requirement, applications for reimbursement must be filed within 1 year of the crime or, importantly, within 1 year of the date you learned about the Program. If you're just learning about the Crime Victims Compensation Program now, you have 1 year from today to file your application, but you'll have to demonstrate, in writing, that you have a "good cause" reason for the delay.
Cooperation With Law Enforcement
Applicants must also cooperate with law enforcement officials in the arrest and prosecution of any criminal suspects. Note, however, that no arrest, prosecution or conviction is required for you to be eligible for assistance. You can file for, and secure, compensation, even if no suspect is ever identified.
Substantiating Your Claims With Documentation
Along with your application, you'll need to submit a variety of substantiating documents:
- Police report, major crash incident report or arrest persecution report
- SANE receipt - in the case of sexual assault, a report from the hospital where the victim received treatment is sufficient to substantiate the crime's commission
- Prosecution report, if applicable (available upon request from the US Attorney's Office)
- Temporary protection order, if applicable (a Petition is not enough; both the Petition and an Approved Court Order are required)
- Petition of child negligence, if applicable (for applications filed on behalf of a child victim)
- Cases of assault - a copy of the forensic examination is required
- Cases of negligence - a criminal or incident report is required
- Personal ID - a copy of some ID is required; non-governmental IDs are acceptable
Once your initial application has been accepted, you'll need to put together documents that can help substantiate your claims for compensation. Begin to gather every bill, itemized receipt and insurance statement that you believe is related to the crime. These will help you prove to the Crime Victims Compensation Program that you deserve compensation.
Eligible Expenses & Compensation Limits
D.C.'s compensation program covers a wide range of crime-related expenses. Reimbursement awards are limited by D.C. law:
- Medical expenses, physical and occupational therapies - $25,000 maximum
- Disability statements from your physician may be required
- Mental health counseling - $6,000 maximum for children; $3,000 maximum for adults
- Lost earnings - $10,000 maximum, or 52 weeks of lost work following the crime, whichever occurs first
- Only available to victims who were gainfully employed at the time of the crime
- Pay stubs, income tax returns, employer verification, medical statement of disability and employment contracts are required
- Funeral, cremation and burial expenses - $6,000 maximum
- Applicants must submit an estimate or itemized receipts for burial-related expenses
- Emergency food and housing
- Food - $400 maximum, distributed in $100 increments
- Housing - $3,000 maximum, no longer than 90 days
- Lost financial support - $2,500 maximum per financial dependent, no more than $7,500
- Available for surviving financial dependents of a homicide victim
- Loss of household services - $2,500 maximum, no more than $200 per week
- Crime scene clean-up - $1,000 maximum
- Clothing seized as evidence - $100 maximum
- Replacement security items - $1,000 maximum
- Available only if the victim's home was burglarized or the victim's home was the scene of the crime
- Moving expenses - $1,500 maximum
- Available when necessary for victim's health and safety
- Transportation expenses - $100 maximum for local travel; $500 maximum for out-of-state travel
- Available for participation in criminal justice process, or to obtain medical or rehab services
- Car rental - $2,000 maximum
It can take a while (usually months) for the Crime Victims Compensation Program to process your claims. An “Emergency Award” may be available. In some cases, the Program can quickly forward a $1,000 award to compensate victims for their lost wages.
Collateral Funding Sources Must Be Exhausted
D.C.'s victim assistance program operates as a "payer of last resort"; it helps pick up the pieces after all of your other funding sources, including insurance policies, have been exhausted. In other words, the fund will reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses. If an expense is compensable through some other source, you must turn to that source first, before submitting a claim to the Crime Victims Compensation Program. Collateral funding sources include:
- Health insurance
- Auto insurance
- Life insurance
- Workers' comp benefits
- Public benefits, like Medicare, Medicaid, TANF and Social Security
- Unemployment benefits
- Court-ordered restitution
- Civil lawsuit proceeds
- Vacation and sick pay
In order to secure compensation through the victims' assistance fund, you will need to show that all of your other funding sources have run out, leaving you with out-of-pocket expenses related to the crime.
Starting Your Application
To begin your application, you can download a paper copy here. Work through it carefully, making sure to fill out every field as completely as you can. If you're unclear on a question, or don't know the answer, just write "unknown" in the space provided. Remember to attach copies of all of your medical statements, hospital bills and / or funeral bills. If you don't have a required document yet, the Crime Victims Compensation Program will reach out to you in the future.