Wisconsin's Crime Victim Compensation Program provides up to $40,000 in financial reimbursement for innocent victims of crime and certain family members.
- Medical bills and surgical expenses
- Lost wages and financial support
- Funeral, burial and cremation expenses
To secure compensation, most victims will be required to comply with strict deadlines. Filing a private lawsuit in civil court may also be possible.
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Innocent victims of crime may be eligible to secure financial reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses through Wisconsin's Crime Victim Compensation Program. Using fees and fines levied against convicted offenders, Wisconsin's trust fund pays out up to $40,000 in compensation to direct victims and eligible family members to help reduce the financial burden of crime.
Applying For Crime-Related Compensation In Wisconsin
Wisconsin's victim assistance fund is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the victims of violent crime and their loved ones. The program is open to anyone injured due to a covered crime within the State of Wisconsin, not just Wisconsin residents.
In fact, residents of Wisconsin who are injured in another state must first apply for compensation through the victims' assistance fund operated by the state in which they were injured. If that state doesn't have its own crime victim compensation program, Wisconsin's fund may be able to help.
Compensation is usually provided to financial dependents (and, in some cases, other family members) who lost a loved one to crime, though the list of eligible expenses is relatively short. Individuals who suffer an injury while attempting to prevent a crime, or pursue a criminal suspect, can also apply to Wisconsin's program.
Covered Criminal Offenses
Wisconsin law sets out an exhaustive list of criminal offenses that are covered by the Crime Victim Compensation Program. The full list can be found below:
- First-degree intentional homicide
- First-degree reckless homicide
- Felony murder
- Second-degree intentional homicide
- Second-degree reckless homicide
- Homicide resulting from negligent control of vicious animal
- Homicide by negligent handling of dangerous weapon, explosives or fire
- Injury by negligent handling of dangerous weapon, explosives or fire
- Battery, substantial battery and aggravated battery
- Theft, extortion or robbery from a financial institution
- Sexual assault of a child
- Physical abuse of a child
- Causing mental harm to a child
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Child trafficking
- Incest with a child
- Child enticement
- Use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime
- Soliciting a child for prostitution
- Sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care
- Sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 (statutory rape)
- Sexual assault of a student by a school instructional staff person
- Child abandonment
- Child neglect
- Child abduction
- Abuse of vulnerable adults
- Abuse of residents of penal facilities
- Reckless injury
- Threat to witnesses
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation by a therapist
- Strangulation and suffocation
- False imprisonment
- Human trafficking
- Taking hostages
- Tampering with household products
- Taking nonconsensual pictures or videos of nudity
- Manufacturing of methamphetamine near a child
- Reckless driving
- DWI / DUI car accidents, including homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle
- Homicide by negligent operation of vehicle
- Injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle
- Pedestrian or bicyclist car accidents
- Operating vehicle without owner's consent while possessing dangerous weapon
Now that we've reviewed the full list, it's important to remember that Wisconsin's compensation program was created, in large part, to compensate victims who have suffered physical injuries. In general, compensation is not available for victims who suffered solely property damage or property loss, though some forms of property damage may be covered for victims who also suffered physical injuries.
What Types Of Expenses Are Covered?
The maximum amount of compensation available through Wisconsin's Crime Victim Compensation Program is set by State law at $40,000. The fund covers a wide range of crime-related expenses, focusing on medical bills and lost wages. Several expense types come with their own maximum compensation limits, in addition to the general $40,000 cap.
- Medical expenses
- Hospital bills
- Surgical bills
- Prescription medications
- Mental health counseling
- Insurance co-pays and deductibles
- Lost wages (with evidence of medical disability)
- Caregiver services
- Lost financial support (for dependents of victims who were killed due to crime)
- Replacement clothing and bedding (when seized as evidence; $300 maximum)
- Replacement computer or cellphone (when seized as evidence; $200 maximum)
- Crime scene cleanup ($1,000 maximum)
- Funeral, burial or cremation expenses ($5,000 maximum)
- Home modifications (for victims who suffer long-term disability; $5,000 maximum)
The covered expenses above generally apply to direct victims, who suffer physical injuries due to crime, and their financial dependents. An award of up to $3,000 is also available for the parent of a child victim to cover the costs of mental health counseling and lost wages.
Additional Funding Sources
As in every other state, Wisconsin's victim assistance fund acts as a "payer of last resort." The program is able to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses; it's not the first place most victims turn for support. If you have health insurance, life insurance or receive government benefits, you should use that money first, before attempting to claim compensation for relevant expenses through Wisconsin's Crime Victims Compensation Program. The program only pays for expenses that other funding sources cannot, or will not, fund.
Deadlines & Eligibility Conditions
The Crime Victims Compensation Program imposes three basic obligations on victims who are applying for financial assistance:
- The crime must be reported within 5 days, with exceptions for "good cause"
- The application must be filed within 1 year of the crime
- The applicant must cooperate with law enforcement officials in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of criminal suspects, if applicable
Neither arrest nor prosecution are requirements. You can apply for, and receive, financial reimbursement, even if the police never identify a suspect in the crime.
Filing Your Application
To begin your application, visit the Crime Victims Compensation Program online and download the form here. Go through the application carefully and fill it out as completely as you can. Be sure to include every substantiating document you can muster when you submit the form. Attach any itemized medical bills that you believe are related to the crime, including receipts from mental health sessions.
Be thorough, but don't worry if you think that you'll need more treatment in the future. You can submit as many claims for compensation to the program as you want within 4 years of the date of the crime, assuming that you stay under the $40,000 maximum.