NOTE: We only handle cases involving accidents and injuries. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. We cannot help you beyond the information provided below if you’re interested in recovering compensation from the Florida Victim Compensation Fund. Please visit the Dade County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service for help finding an attorney.
Have you or someone you know been the innocent victim of a crime in Miami? Did you suffer any injuries? If so, you might qualify to receive benefits from the Florida Victim Compensation Fund.
What is the Florida Victim Compensation Fund?
Did you know that the State of Florida receives federal funds to help victims of crime? It’s true. In fact, every state gets money because of the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
These funds are intended to be paid to innocent victims of crimes throughout the state. In other words, you can get compensation from the state if you (or someone you know) suffered injuries because you were the victim of a crime.
Who is Eligible for Assistance From the Florida Victim Compensation Fund?
Victims. Innocent victims of crimes can qualify for compensation from the state. A victim includes anyone who:
- Suffered a personal injury or death because of a crime
- Witnessed a crime as a child and has experienced psychological or psychiatric harm
- Suffered a mental injury because they were the victim of child abuse as a minor, or
- Suffered psychiatric or psychological harm as the victim of a forcible felony.
Compensation is not just limited to victims who suffer physical injuries. You can also be considered a victim for the purposes of the Florida Victim Compensation Fund if you struggle with emotional or psychological injuries.
Intervenors. Victims aren’t the only ones covered by the compensation fund. You may also be entitled to money if you intervened while a crime was being committed to try to help an innocent victim. You can also be considered an intervenor if you tried to stop the crime from happening or to apprehend the suspect. Intervenors can only recover funds to compensate for physical injuries or death.
Family members. Was someone you love injured or killed as a victim of a crime? If you are a surviving child, sibling, spouse, or parent, you may be qualified to receive an award from the Florida Victim Compensation Fund.
In certain situations, the following individuals may also qualify for fund benefits:
- Relatives who need to cover funeral expenses for a deceased victim;
- Individuals who relied on a deceased victim as their primary source of support; and
- Guardians on behalf of a deceased and or incapacitated victim.
Do you think you qualify to receive an award from the Florida Victim Compensation Fund? Contact an experienced attorney for further help with this matter.
What Might Disqualify Me For an Award From the Compensation Fund?
The compensation fund is only intended to help innocent victims and intervenors. You will not qualify for fund benefits if you:
- Were injured while committing or helping someone else commit the crime
- Were in custody or incarcerated when you were injured
- Have been found guilty of a forcible felony offense; or
- Have been classified as a habitual felony offender, habitual violent offender, or violent career criminal.
In other words, you can’t have contributed to the crime or your injuries. The state will also disqualify you if you have a lengthy rap sheet that includes violence for forcible felonies.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Victim Fund Benefits?
The state limits the amount of time you have to make applications for benefits from the Victims Compensation Fund. In most cases, your claim must be filed within one year of:
- The date of the crime
- The death of a victim or intervenor, or
- The date when it’s established that a crime caused a victim’s death
Florida May extend the amount of time you have to file a victim compensation fund claim for good cause. However, it’s best to try to get your claim in as soon as you can. You don’t want to miss out on money that you need deserve.
How Do I File For Benefits?
You must follow these steps if you want to receive benefits from the Florida Victim Compensation Fund.
Report the Crime
If you want benefits from the compensation fund, you’ll have to make sure that the crime is reported to a law enforcement agency. Crimes must be reported within 72 hours. You’ll have to include both the time and date of when you reported the crime, as well as the name of the agency you contacted.
Complete and Submit the Victim Compensation Claim Form
Once you determined that you are eligible or an award, you’ll need to complete the Victim Compensation Claim Form. The forum will require you to provide information about:
- Yourself, including your name, address, and date of birth
- Your physical, psychiatric, and/or psychological injuries
- The type of compensation you’re requesting
- Details supporting your requests for compensation, including proof of injury
- Health insurance information
- Details about the crime, including the name of the offender if you know it
- Your attorney’s information,
- Any civil lawsuits that you filed as a result of the crime.
It’s essential to be as detailed as possible on the claim form. The state reserve the right to approve, approve and part, deny, or litigate your request for compensation from the fund. The more information you provide, the easier it will be to back up your request for benefits.
What Compensation Can I Recover From the Victim Fund?
Victims, intervenors, and family members may be entitled to receive compensation for crime-related:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Mental health counseling expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses, and
- Loss of financial support.
If you’ve experienced a financial loss because you were the innocent victim of a crime, you can make a case that you should receive benefits from the fund.
Get Help With Your Victim Compensation Fund Claim
If you’ve been injured because you were the victim of a crime, you may be entitled to compensation from the state. This money can help to offset medical expenses, lost wages, and any other financial hardships you’re experiencing. Hiring an attorney to handle your claim for benefits can give you time to recover, while also increasing the likelihood that you get every penny you need.