Texas Crime Victims’ Fund Overview
If you are ever injured in a crime you may be entitled to compensation. However, if the person that hurt you or a loved one does not have insurance and cannot pay for your expenses, you may be left holding the bag. If a drunk driver who hits you does not have insurance or for any other reason you are not able to receive adequate compensation, the Texas office of the Attorney General has established a Crime Victims’ Fund which helps fill in the gaps of due compensation in particular cases.
The fund allows victims who meet certain qualifications to receive monetary compensation from the state when the guilty party is unable to cover damages. This is generally not the first place to seek compensation, however. A person is generally required to first look to health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, car insurance, or even Worker’s Compensation if the crime occurred within work purview. The Crime Victims’ Fund is a last resort service which helps guarantee that innocent victims of crimes are made whole again by every form of compensation possible under law.
The program will generally cover up to $50,000 in approved benefits for injuries sustained from a crime. If you have a permanent or long-lasting injury however, the office may grant you an additional $75,000, and cover more expenses if you qualify.
The Fund does have some requirements regarding who can apply and what kind of compensation they can seek. These requirements aim to ensure that funds are being directed towards the appropriate people, at appropriate times. The following requirements will apply in most cases:
- The victim is a Texas resident and the crime occurred in Texas, or
- The victim is a Texas resident, but the crime was committed against them in another state and the state where the crime occurred does not have a state Crime Victims’ Fund, or
- The victim is a resident of another state, but the crime was committed against them in the state of Texas
Police Assistance and Filing Requirements:
- The victim must have reported the crime to law enforcement officials within a reasonable amount of time so as not to hamper the investigation into the crime and the prosecution
- The victim is usually required to fully cooperate with the police investigation and state prosecution of the crime
- The victim must file the application with the office within three years of the crime. (This may be extended if good cause is shown in cases when the age of the victim or their mental/physical capacity is an issue in the case.)
Personal Characteristics of Eligible Individuals:
- An innocent party in the crime who suffers substantial emotional or physical harm or death or the threat of harm or death
- A dependent of the victim (child, elder parent, relative, or anyone who depended on the victim for financial support)
- An authorized person who is acting on behalf of the victim
- Anyone who intervenes in the crime in the interest of aiding the victim, including peace officers
- Anyone who voluntarily takes over the payment of medical bills and other crime related expenses of the victim, and legally assumes their responsibilities
- Immediate family or loved ones who are related by blood or marriage and, as a result of the crime, require counseling
- Anyone charged with protecting the public within their job duties and is involved in the crime (firefighters, police, peace officers, etc.)
These requirements seek to ensure that the person requesting state funds has:
- a) been injured by the crime for which they are the innocent party,
- b) are within the state jurisdiction, and
- c) has a close relationship to the actual victim of the crime.
The Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund specifically excludes:
- a) anyone who committed any illegal acts involved in the crime,
- b) anyone who participated or contributed to the crime,
- c) anyone who was an inmate during the crime,
- d) anyone who knowingly falsified an application to receive funds from the program
- e) anyone who did not sufficiently help law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
Eligibility for the Fund
Most crimes where the victim suffers substantial threat of physical or emotional harm or death are covered under the program. Generally, these will include sex offenses, assault, homicide, arson, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping. However, the crime need not be of this nature. Vehicular crimes may also be covered under the policy. These include DWI, criminally negligent homicide, intoxication manslaughter or assault, and/or failure to stop and render aid.
However, remember, if a person knowingly or willingly participated in, contributed to, or acted in furtherance of the crime then you are not eligible. If a person was in any way an accomplice to the offender, then they do not have access to these funds. Additionally, if a person was incarcerated or falsifies an application, they forfeit their eligibility.
Types of Compensation
The office will review each case and a crime victim will have to submit information pertaining to the injuries sustained, financial loss, and any other loss incurred, such as lost wages and/or attorneys fees. The general areas covered by the program include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills from hospitals, physical therapy, or nursing homes,
- Mental health care such as psychiatric treatment and counseling,
- Potential moving costs,
- Loss of earnings, support, or wages,
- Any expense due to participation and support in the investigation and prosecution of the crime (this may include travel, lodging expenses, and wage loss),
- Daycare or any childcare facility costs for dependent children,
- End of life expenses such as funerals and burial services,
- Clean up or repair of crime scene property,
- Replacement costs of anything taken as evidence,
- Attorney fees paid in the application for the Crime Victims’ Fund program or further assistance with claims under the program.
If a person suffered a catastrophic injury that may cause permanent disability, then they may be eligible for additional compensation, including:
- Job training or vocational rehabilitation,
- Home care and any adjustments to make home living assessable, and/or
- Rehabilitation technology that provides long term health support.
It is important to note that not all these needs may qualify for compensation. Each claim will have to be filed with supporting documentation, and is subject to the reasonable discretion according to the program’s guidelines. Property damage caused during the crime is generally not covered under this program.
Health care and medical expense benefits are paid by the program to the hospitals, doctors, and any medical professional that provided services to the victim.
The following limitations are applied in most cases.
1) Mental health compensation is limited to $3,000 total, and must be applied to a licensed provider.
2) In-patient treatment for mental treatment is limited to 30 days, at a maximum of $600 per day.
3) Lost wages are capped at $500 per week.
4) There is a 90-day limit for daycare of a surviving victim’s child, at $100 per week.
5) The limit for loss of support (when a primary bread winner is killed in a crime) is $500 a week for 90 days.
6) Funeral and burial expenses are capped at $4,500.
How to apply
You can fill out the appropriate forms on the Texas Attorney General’s website and submit them at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, the process is complex, and you may benefit from having legal representation during this prosses. Every law enforcement agency is required by law to have a liaison for this program who can guide you through the process. Additionally, if you lose your first application or do not receive enough compensation, there is an appeal process.
Injuries due to crimes can be a difficult and painful experience. They can be made even worse by finding out that the person who harmed you is not able to cover financial damages you’ve sustained. However, the state of Texas has tried to help victims of crimes by funding this Crime Victims’ Fund that seeks to cover and compensate for this deficiency and ensure all victims are made as whole as possible. This is a good program, but as you can imagine, it often falls far short. Having legal counsel to guide you through this process can sometimes make the compensation more appropriate. In other cases, and far more often, it is necessary to hire a personal injury attorney to research any and every other avenue possible for recovery.
With offices in Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas, Chandler | Ross, PLLC and our Personal Injury Attorneys are well positioned to provide the most effective and highly-skilled representation possible. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, don’t wait, and don’t compromise – contact us today for a Free Case Evaluation and see how we may be able help you. (940) 800-2500 or Support@ChandlerRossLaw.com
In most cases, you pay nothing unless you recover. Contact us now.
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