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Crime Victims Compensation Fund

Written by Legal Aid WV

07/07/2021

In 1981, the West Virginia Legislature enacted the Crime Victims Compensation Fund declaring that “a primary purpose of government is to provide for the safety of citizens and inviolability of their property.” The primary purpose of this Act is to provide 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. The program is administered by the West Virginia Court of Claims and the Act establishes a fund which pays compensation and medical benefits to innocent victims of crime if they meet basic requirements.

What requirements are needed in order to qualify? You must:
(1) be a victim of a crime that took place in West Virginia, or be a West Virginia resident who was injured in another state that does not have a compensation program, or be a West Virginia resident who was injured outside of the United States as a result of terrorism,
(2) you must have suffered a personal injury as a result of that crime,
(3) you must have suffered an economic loss,
(4) you must make a report to the police within 72 hours of the crime taking place,
(5) you must fully cooperate with the police investigation, and
(6) you must have been an innocent victim. It is also important to note that if a victim dies as a result of the crime- a spouse, dependent, legal guardian, executor/executrix, or anyone who pays for the medical or funeral expenses of the victim is also eligible to apply for these funds.

If you meet all of these requirements you can file an application within two years of the crime taking place or if the victim is a minor at the time the crime takes place- a claim must be filed prior to the minor’s 20th birthday. As long as there are no other sources of reimbursement available such as medical insurance, employment benefits, other state benefits, life insurance, etc. the fund can reimburse the following expenses if they are incurred as a direct result of a crime: medical/dental bills, mental health counseling by a licensed counselor, lost wages/income, funeral/burial expenses, lost support of eligible dependents, replacement service loss, mileage to a medical treatment facility, and medically necessary personal property items such as eyeglasses. The maximum allowable benefits to or on behalf of a victim are up to $35,000 if the victim suffers injury, and up to $50,000 if the victim suffers death.

In order to apply for these funds, a Crime Victims Compensation Fund application must be completed. You can access the application at the following link: https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Joint/Victims/claim.cfm, you may print and complete the following pdf: https://www.vwapwv.com/pdf/cv_app_2016.pdf, or you may call the Fund at 1-877-562-6878 or (304) 347-4850. Applications may also be obtained from local county prosecuting attorney offices. After the application is received, the claim will then be assigned to a claim investigator for review to determine eligibility. Upon completion of the application review process, the claim investigator files with the Court a Finding of Fact and Recommendation of which you will be given a copy of and a chance to respond within 30 days if a response is needed. One of the three Court of Claims Judges will review the documents and render a decision. A copy of the Judge’s Order will be sent to the claimant and if you disagree with the Judge’s decision you have appeal rights and you will be given 21 days to request a hearing on the matter. If a monetary award is approved, the funds will be distributed to the claimant for approved expenses and wage/income loss, and directly to the provider for medical or funeral/burial expenses. This fund is a great resource to assist innocent victims or their families in rebuilding their lives after a crime has taken place. For more information, please visit https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Joint/Victims/eligibility.cfm or call the Fund toll free at 1-877-562-6878.

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