In light of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, you may have wondered, "What can I do if something terrible like that ever happens to me or my family?" Fortunately, there's a government program that will allow you and your family — as well as the shooting victims' families — to receive help through a victim crime compensation fund. Here's what you need to know.
What is victim compensation?
The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVB) is an organization that works to both educate its members so they can provide victims and their families with knowledge and support through the compensation process. According to NACVB, every state has a victim crime compensation program, and you can find links to all of them on NACVB's website.
Victim compensation can take many forms, so while money will never truly make up for the emotional and mental trauma attached to a crime, the financial aid can ensure you receive the best care and treatment while you recover. In addition to medical care, victim compensation funds can be used to pay for mental health programs, lost wages, and funerals. Some states also offer funding for the cost of travel to treatments, babysitting and/or childcare costs if the victim can't perform these tasks, and moving expenses.
Am I eligible for victim compensation?
Not all crimes fall under the umbrella of eligibility. According to the NACVB, victims of rape, child sexual abuse, assault, domestic violence, and drunk driving are eligible for victim compensation. However, if you have questions about eligibility, you should call your local office and ask.
How do I apply for victim compensation?
Laws vary by state, but the NACVB says most guidelines for compensation follow a similar pattern. Victims must: 1. Have reported the crime to police promptly. (States may grant exceptions depending on the age of the victim, i.e. child victims) 2. Submit an application for compensation in a timely manner. (Again, exceptions can be made in some states.) 3. Demonstrate a loss or cost that is not covered by insurance or other government benefit program. (Victim compensation programs will pay only after collateral sources have been exhausted.) 4. Not have committed a criminal act that contributed to the crime. An apprehension or conviction of the offender is not required to receive compensation.
How much victim compensation will I receive?
The NACVB says the average payout is capped at $25,000, but this can change depending on where you live. If you are using your funds for services like a funeral or mental health counseling, the cap may be lower.
If you still have questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your state's victim crime compensation program. As the programs vary by state, talking to a local representative will ensure that you get the most accurate information.