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What Is the Washington State Crime Victims Compensation Program?

Colburn Law

The aftermath of a violent crime can be disorienting and devastating to many people. You may have to cope with ongoing physical and mental health ailments, miss work to recover and attend court appointments, and navigate pain and suffering or a reduced quality of life. While you may not be able to reverse what happened to you, you can claim compensation to aid in your recovery through the Washington State Crime Victims Compensation Program.

About the Crime Victims Compensation Program

In the early 1970s, Washington residents pointed out the discrepancies between the support the state provided to criminals versus the victims of those criminals. Violent crimes often leave victims with significant medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and other costs due to the actions of these criminals. In response to this outcry, the state passed the Crime Victims Compensation Act in 1973, establishing the Program.

Under the Crime Victims Compensation Program, the state provides financial compensation to victims for expenses such as medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, and other damages. The Program can help close the gap between the support that you receive from your insurance company to the amount you need to recover from your injuries.

Who Is Eligible for the Program?

Like most social compensation programs, you will need to apply and prove your eligibility to receive compensation from the Program. To receive benefits from the Crime Victims Compensation Program, you will need to meet the following eligibility requirements.

• You suffered a bodily injury or experienced emotional stress due to a crime.
• You were the victim of a gross misdemeanor or felony.
• You file your report within one year of the date you experienced the crime or within one year of the date you could have reported the crime.
• You cooperate with law enforcement officers, assisting with the investigation and prosecution processes.
• You apply for benefits from the Program within two years of reporting the crime. If you have good cause, you can apply for benefits within five years of reporting.
• You did not participate in or provoke the crime that led to your injury.
• You have not received a felony conviction within five years of the date of the crime.

What Does the Program Cover?

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements for the Program and file your reports within the applicable time limits, you can receive compensation for multiple damages related to the crime you experienced. The Program will reduce your benefits by any insurance payments you receive. The Program covers multiple expenses, including the following.

• Medical and dental treatment costs
• Mental health treatment costs
• Grief counseling
• Funeral and burial expenses
• Medication costs
• Lost wages due to recovery from the crime

The Crime Victims Compensation Program does not provide funds for all damages following a crime, however. The Program does not pay for expenses that your insurance covers or costs related to identity theft. You cannot claim benefits to clean up a crime scene, and the Program does not cover crimes involving damage to personal property.

How to Apply for Washington Crime Victim Benefits

To receive benefits under the Crime Victims Compensation Program, you will first need to file a timely police report. You will then have to complete and submit an Application for Benefits either online or via mail, email, or fax. For online applications, you should hear about your benefits within 10 to 15 days. For mailed, emailed, or faxed applications, you should hear back in about 30 days.

With the Crime Victims Compensation Program, you can aid yourself on the road to recovery and obtain the help you need. However, the state limits this funding and you may require more compensation to recover. If the Crime Victims Compensation Program does not cover all of your damages, consider filing a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim with the assistance of an attorney.