The New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) grew from the Criminal Injury Compensation Act of 1971 and furthers the mission to assist crime victims and their families with the funds and resources to help recover from the aftermath of violent crimes. For those who qualify, the VCCO aims to counteract the fallout of tragic crimes with compassionate physical and emotional healing assistance by providing economic aid and guidance. Often, victims of crime compensation benefits are an important resource to access for victims of domestic violence.
Eligibility Requirements for NJ Victims of Crime Compensation
The VCCO accepts claims from crime victims who suffered injury or death and their dependent family members. The Office also services those injured while preventing a crime or assisting law enforcement arrests. However, the assistance extends to crimes occurring in New Jersey only and not to those involved with committing the crime or otherwise aware of the commission of a crime.
Compensable Offenses for Victims of Crimes in New Jersey
The Office compensates victims for physical or mental injury resulting from violent crimes, primarily indictable crimes. Crimes, such as assault, sexual or indecent crimes involving children and adults, kidnapping, murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, burglary, stalking, violent threats, tampering with food, drug or cosmetic products, bias intimidation, and crimes involving vehicles are compensable. However, even a disorderly persons offense, like disorderly conduct, can be considered a compensable offense.
Exclusionary Criteria for those Seeking Victim Compensation
The VCCO expressly excludes assistance to offenders, their accomplices, and aiders and abettors. Also excluded are those injury victims who entered a vehicle or boat knowing or should have known the driver was intoxicated or accident victims of incidences not covered in VCCO’s compensable crimes. Additionally, those who miss the claim filing cut-off or are non-resident victims of crimes occurring in other states or New Jersey victims of crimes occurring in another state with a victim compensation program may be ineligible for payment.
What is Included in Victims of Crime Compensation Benefits in NJ?
Compensation is available up to a maximum of $25,000.00 (for crimes committed on December 5, 1982, and later) for medical and dental care, prescriptions, and medical transportation (to and from medical appointments, for example) and equipment. Supplemental compensation of an additional $35,000.00 is available to victims of catastrophic injury. Pain and suffering compensation is not a compensable cost.
Counseling and funeral costs up to $7,500.00, and transportation to funerals and court are also reimbursable. All eligible claimants may receive loss of earnings and loss of support when the victim dies, or the offender is the support source, for example, in domestic violence victims’ claims or for bereavement. Domestic help is also compensable.
The Office also allows claims for attorney’s fees for victims who need legal representation regarding the crime or in filing a claim. The Office also pays out indirect costs, such as up to $3,000.00 for relocating, a maximum of $6,500.00 in domestic help, and replacement of stolen cash.
Claimants ought to be aware that the VCCO pays crime-related expenses that are not covered by other sources, such as medical insurance, disability benefits, court-ordered restitution, government funds, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, Worker’s Compensation, union benefits, other insurance, third party action funds beyond $1,000.00, and prepaid healthcare contract payouts.
Process to Apply for NJ Victims of Crime Compensation
To receive compensation, including attorney’s fees, a victim or other eligible claimant must file their claim within five years of the injury or death unless the VCCO accepts a late claim on a showing of good cause for the delay. The Office determines good cause as untimely filings due to lack of information regarding VCCO compensation, delay due to incapacity from the crime, or mental incapacity. Minors have until five years from turning 18 to file a claim.
Another benefit condition is a police report filed within nine months of the crime or when the claimant knew or should have known a crime happened. Finally, the claimant must have a minimum of $100.00 in expenses or lost earnings or support for crimes occurring before June 26, 1995. After that date, no minimum losses are necessary.
A claimant and their attorney can find online applications and instructions or from VCCO, at law enforcement and medical facilities, and with the victim and witness coordinator at the county prosecutors’ offices throughout New Jersey. The instructions inform claimants how to complete the claim and about compliance with applicable regulations. The application requires the claimant’s information, including employment, insurance, employment, and wage information. There are also sections to describe the crime and expenses incurred since the crime occurred. The application also asks about civil actions regarding the crime and authorization to obtain records.
How our Attorneys can Help You File a Claim for Victims of Crime Compensation in New Jersey
By law, victims of domestic violence can obtain court protection through a temporary restraining order on an emergency basis and secure a permanent restraining order by proving their case at a final hearing in Family Court. Our team of NJ domestic violence lawyers can represent you at the final restraining order trial while also assisting you in filing your compensation claim from the VCCO. At The Tormey Law Firm, our attorneys are highly experienced in helping clients file VCCO claims and we can help you apply for benefits if you are eligible. We know the Office processes applications quicker with copies of police reports, applicable bills, receipts, and insurance statements attached to the application. That way, you save the Office time to ask for these documents or investigate the claim. Our lawyers can also advise you to inform the Office of address changes and to cooperate with the Office’s investigation of your claim.
Since our attorneys are regularly dealing with domestic violence cases, we also know which costs are reimbursable by the Office so that you do not have to guess or incorrectly request reimbursement for non-compensable items, potentially delaying your claim’s processing. We are fully aware of the typical expenses a victim requires because of the trauma of violence, especially when the violence affects children. When helping with your VCCO claim, we may ask you about your mental, emotional, physical, and psychological condition and needs arising from the violent crime you experienced. Then, we will verify the facts supporting uncovered counseling, transportation, medical and financial support, and other needs you and your children, parents, or other dependents need or will need due to personal injury to you or your family member. Our team can also assist with securing attorneys fees for the expenses of our representation if we determine that you are eligible for these benefits. In that way, your application for benefits will be complete.
For questions regarding your eligibility and the process to apply for New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation in your domestic violence case, contact us at (908)-336-5008 for a free consultation. An attorney at our office is always available to assist you with your concerns, determine if you are eligible, and help you pursue a victim compensation claim following domestic violence.