In 1981, the West Virginia Legislature enacted legislation (West Virginia Code §14-2A) creating the crime victims program within the West Virginia Court of Claims declaring that “a primary purpose of government is to provide for the safety of citizens and the inviolability of their property.” This Act provides for compensation to innocent victims of crime who have suffered personal injury and who have incurred out-of-pocket losses as a result of criminally injurious conduct.
Crimes Resulting in Personal Injury
In order to be eligible for compensation from the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, the individual must suffer a personal injury. Crimes that result in personal injury include:
- Malicious Assault
- Assault and Battery
- Child Abuse/Molestation
- Domestic Violence
- Driving under the Influence
- Reckless Driving
- Vehicle Homicide (Negligent Homicide)
- Other Violent Crimes
- Sexual Assault
- Hunting Accident
Basic Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for compensation, there must be a crime involving personal injury or death, with the following additional requirements:
- The crime must either have occurred in West Virginia, or
- A West Virginia resident injured in another State without a compensation program, or
- A West Virginia resident injured outside the United States as a result of terrorism
- The crime must be reported to law enforcement officials within 72 hours (unless just cause exists)
- The claimant must fully cooperate with law enforcement officials
- The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the incident
- The victim must suffer a personal injury
- There must be an economic loss
Who is Eligible to File an Application
- A victim who has suffered an injury as a result of a crime
- Anyone who pays for the medical and/or funeral/burial expenses of a victim
- A legal guardian of a minor
- An executor or executrix of the estate of a deceased victim
- A spouse or dependent who suffers noneconomic loss due to the death of a victim
The Fund can reimburse the following expenses if they are incurred as a direct result of a crime as long as there are no other sources of reimbursement available.
- Mental Health Counseling by a Licensed Counselor
- Lost Wages/Income
- Lost Support of eligible dependents
- Replacement service loss
- Mileage to medical treatment facility
Who is Not Eligible to Receive Compensation
- Person who commits the crime
- Persons who do not cooperate with law enforcement officials or the claim investigator
- Persons who are injured while incarcerated
Types of Losses Not Covered
- Personal property (except medically necessary items such as eyeglasses)
- Work loss of others (only the victim’s work loss is considered)
Reimbursement From Other Sources
By law, the Crime Victims Compensation Fund is the “payer of last resort”. As such, if any other sources of reimbursement are available for the victim’s/claimant’s crime-related losses, such sources must be used before the victim/claimant becomes eligible for reimbursement from the Fund. Victims/claimants have the responsibility to inform the Fund of any reimbursement sources for their losses and are responsible for repayment of any amounts for which it was later determined they were not eligible. Other reimbursement sources that may be available include, but are not limited to:
- Medical/health, dental, or vision insurance
- Employee sick leave benefits
- Employee annual leave benefits
- Public program benefits (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.)
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment benefits
- Life insurance over $25,000 and auto insurance
- Court-ordered restitution
- Civil lawsuit recoveries
Time Limitations for Filing Application
The application for an adult victim (18 years or older at the time of crime) must be filed with the Fund within two years of the crime.
The application for a minor victim (under 18 year of age at the time of the crime) must be filed with the Fund before the minor’s 20th birthday.
Attorneys specializing in the Crime Victims Compensation Fund determine if an individual is eligible for compensation from the fund, guide their clients through the application process, and assist in filing responses after the initial application review.
For more information about the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, please follow the link below to the West Virginia Legislature’s website.
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