Everything You Need to Know About the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program
Because Marc Lenahan has been representing victims of crime for over two decades — terrorism, mass murder, DWI, child abuse imagery, homicide, criminal conspiracy, and too many others — we’ve worked closely with the good people at the Crime Victims Compensation Program over and over.
You may have never heard of the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program (CVC), but it is an incredibly important piece of Texan history and law. Started in 1979 by the Texas Legislature, the CVC is managed by the Office of the Attorney General. It was created with two primary goals in mind.
The first was to promote more victim participation in both catching and prosecuting criminals. Many people who have been victimized don’t want to come forward and help police or the court system as the process often requires recounting the trauma inflicted upon them. And, coming forward does not always mean obtaining justice, as there may simply not be enough evidence to prosecute.
The second goal was to reimburse victims for costs that are related to the crime. Criminal court cases are meant to determine guilt and appropriately punish the criminal. They are not meant to give compensation to the potential victims. While it is possible to file a claim against someone for injury and property damages they caused, not everyone can afford a lawyer, and proving liability on your own can be difficult.
Not everyone is eligible to be part of the CVC. In order to qualify as a victim, you must be:
- Injured because of the crime
- A person who attempted to aid a victim of a crime and was injured
- A first responder who was injured while responding to a crime
Injuries are not just physical, but they can be psychological or emotional as well.
You can also potentially qualify as a claimant, or someone who is not the victim but is:
- Permitted to act on behalf of a victim because they are a minor, incapacitated, or dead
- Taking on the legal responsibility
- Paying all crime-related bills
- A dependent of a dead victim
- A family or household member who requires crime-related mental health care
Companies, businesses, and corporations may not apply as a claimant.
Total compensation is limited at $50,000 and can’t necessarily be applied to every cost associated with a crime.
You can claim for:
- Medical care
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of support
- Child/dependent care
- Funeral expenses
- Clean up of a crime scene
- Relocation costs
- Attorney fees
- Dental care
- Replacement of seized property
- Mental health care
While it may seem like you can ask for anything under the sun to be covered, there are a few important caveats. Firstly, CVC is the last payment source option by law. All other collateral payment sources, as in another payment resource that can cover crime-related costs, must pay first. Collateral sources include, but may not be limited to, insurance (dental, medical, vehicle, and homeowner/renters), workers’ compensation, and any settlements. If all collateral payment sources have paid as much as they are required to, then you can apply for further compensation from the CVC.
Secondly, compensation may be limited or simply not available due to laws surrounding the crime and when the crime took place. This is determined by a case by case basis, but if you want to know if CVC compensation may be limited for you, you can contact the local Crime Victim Liaison.
The application process is fairly straightforward. You can apply online from the comfort of your own home. Or, if you would rather have a physical application, you can apply by mail. You can download a PDF copy or call (800) 983-9933 and request an application form be sent to you.
After sending in your application, be prepared to provide information on the crime and damages in question. You don’t need any documentation for the application itself, but you may need to provide some after the review process begins. You may contact officers throughout the process in order to provide information you accidentally left out, not known, or forgotten.
If you need help with your application, or you have questions, it is recommended you contact either the local Crime Victim Liaison, the Prosecutor’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, or some sort of victim advocate, which can be found at places like family violence centers.
The Crime Victims Compensation Program is an incredible triumph for any and all Texan victims. But it has a ceiling to the amount you can be given, and there are limits on what it will cover and who can apply. If you or a loved one have been severely injured due to someone else’s negligence or bad decisions, contact The Lenahan Law Firm at (214) 295-1008 to see if we’re the right lawyers for you. Justice shouldn’t be limited to $50,000 or just monetary losses. We know the pain and suffering you are going through is worth so much more than that.