Although we hope our readers never need to access their state’s victim funds, they should know that these services and compensation are available. (We use New York as the example state for this article but the process is virtually identical in all of the states. There is also a federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). The OVC’s mission, however, covers such areas as human trafficking, mass violence (riots) and terrorism. The purpose of this article is to provide more local information.)
The State of New York’s commitment to its innocent victims of violent crime began with the creation of the Crime Victims Compensation Board in 1966, now named the Office of Victim Services (OVS). As of June 22, 2010, the Crime Victims Board (CVB) became the Office of Victim Services (OVS) and has been providing compensation and other services to one of the most vulnerable populations in our State – innocent victims of crime – for more than 40 years.
OVS has a three-tiered mission to:
- provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner;
- fund direct services to crime victims via a network of community-based programs; and
- advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.
OVS provides substantial financial relief to victims of crime and their families by paying unreimbursed crime-related expenses, including but not limited to: medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings or support, counseling costs, crime scene clean-up expenses, the cost to repair or replace items of essential personal property, reasonable and necessary court transportation expenses, assistance to crime victims acting as a good Samaritan, the cost of residing at or utilizing the services of a domestic violence shelter, and limited attorney fees.
The agency is a payer of last resort, which means:
- A crime victim or family member must exhaust all other sources of compensation before OVS can assist.
- For example, benefits must first be obtained from health or other insurance policies or workers’ compensation before the agency can provide compensation.
Who may be eligible for compensation?
- The victim must be an innocent victim of the crime. By law, OVS can reduce an award or deny a claim if the agency determines that a person’s conduct contributed to their injuries.
- Victims of crime who were physically injured as a result of the crime
- Victims of crime who are under 18, 60 and over, or disabled, who were not physically injured
- Certain relatives and dependents, including surviving spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, stepparent or person primarily dependent on the victim for support
- Those who paid for or incurred burial costs for an innocent crime victim
- Child victims, a child who witnesses a crime, and the child’s parent, stepparent, grandparent, guardian, brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister
- Certain victims of unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping
- Certain stalking victims
- Victims of terrorist acts outside of the US who are a resident of New York State
- Victims of frivolous lawsuits brought by a person who committed a crime against the victim
What other steps are necessary to be eligible?
- Report the crime within one week to police or another criminal justice agency
- File a claim with OVS within one year of the crime
- If late with either crime reporting or claim filing, justify the delay in writing
- Cooperate with police, the district attorney’s office and OVS
If you believe you are eligible for relief or reimbursement from the NYS OVS, file a claim here. To ensure process efficiency, have all of your related documentation together before contacting the agency.
And now, this week in:
NEW NEWS: “All New York State IDs are currently acceptable to use for REAL ID purposes, such as getting into federal buildings and for use to board domestic flights,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “We anticipate that all documents now issued will remain acceptable until October 1, 2020.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.