If you have been the victim of a crime in Washington, you may have the right to claim compensation from the Crime Victims Compensation Program. This program provides a maximum benefit of $190,000, including medical benefits if you don’t have other insurance. The program is available to people who have lost loved ones to homicide.
The program is not your only legal recourse if you have suffered injuries or severe distress from criminal victimization. You may also have the right to file a private lawsuit against the person or party who committed the crime. To understand all of your options, discuss your situation with an attorney.
Who is eligible for compensation under the Crime Victims Compensation Program?
In order to be eligible for compensation, you must:
- Have been the victim of a gross misdemeanor or felony crime
- Have suffered bodily injury or severe emotional distress
- File a report with the police within a year of the crime, or within a year of when the crime could reasonably have been reported
- Provide reasonable cooperation with law enforcement
- Apply for benefits within two years of the police report or, with a showing of good cause, five years
Some people are not eligible even though they meet all of those criteria. Your application may be denied if:
- Your injuries were the result of your own actions (e.g., you provoked, incited or participated in the event)
- Your injury occurred during the attempt or commission of a felony
- Your injury occurred while you were incarcerated
- You have been convicted of a violent or serious felony within the last five years
What kinds of benefits are provided?
You can apply for compensation for many of the expenses and losses caused by the crime. Be aware that the Crime Victims Compensation Program is a payor of last benefits, meaning that your own insurance, if any, will need to pay before the program will.
The program pays for:
- Medical and dental services
- Mental health treatment
- Grief counseling
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Sexual assault forensic exams (primary payor)
- Examinations of suspected child victims of assault
What isn’t covered:
- Identity theft recovery
- Personal property recovery
- Crime scene cleanup
- Expenses covered by other insurance
If you have been traumatized or injured as the result of a crime in Washington, you have rights, but there may be time limits to make your claim. Discuss your situation with an attorney right away.