Being a victim of crime can be an overwhelming and difficult experience. The Virginia Victims Fund is in place to help you. In addition to our services, you have certain rights under Virginia law. Most of these rights are protected by local Victim Witness Assistance Programs and the Commonwealths Attorney. You can find access to these resources by contacting the DCJS infoline.Protection
- From further harm and threats of harm
- Waiting area separate from the accused during court proceedings
- The Virginia Victims Fund
- Restitution for damages or loss
- Prompt return of property being held as evidence
- Case status information
- Employer intercession services
- Prisoner release notification
- Victim Impact Statement
- Courtroom presence during trial
- Parole input for crimes occurring prior to 1/1/1995
- Plea Agreement Consultation
- Confidentiality of address and telephone numbers
- Interpreter services
- Closed preliminary hearing in limited situations
- Use of two-way closed circuit television in limited situations
19.2-368.5 (B) allows the VVF to accept an application for a cold case that is reopened because of newly discovered evidence. The initial reporting of the incident would still need to fall within the normal eligibility requirements (within 5 days of the incident or within 10 years of the 18th birthday if someone is reporting sexual abuse that occurred while they were a child).
The proper documentation has to be collected for the claim file before a claim can be paid. The more quickly documentation is gathered, the more quickly payment will occur. Depending on the complexity of a claim, this process can take up to six months.
After a claim is filed, it is assigned to a claims examiner. The examiner will send letters to the victim indicating what is needed to complete the claim. The examiner will send letters to medical providers asking for documentation for the victim’s claim file, but many documents that are required before payment can be made must be provided by the victim.
Victims should file in the state or country in which they were victimized. If that state or country does not have a crime victims' compensation program, they should file in Virginia.
As long as the claim was initially filed within 1 year of the incident, or good cause is shown, expenses that are still related to the crime can be to submitted to VVF indefinitely. VVF will continue pay expenses as long as they are related to the crime.
VVF collects medical records because it is necessary to document that any medical care paid is related to the crime incident.
The victim should submit their application with a brief written statement explaining why they did not file within the time limit. VVF may accept the claim if good cause is shown for the delay. The Director will determine good cause on a case-by-case basis.
The VVF can subpoena information from doctors’ offices and other entities. Contact the VVF office and let them know.
In order for VVF to cover counseling, it must be provided by a medical doctor, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed professional counselor. Group therapy and support groups may be covered if they are under the supervision of a licensed professional.
VVF encourages providers to direct bill and pays outstanding balances whenever possible. It is not necessary for a victim to pay a provider; they should direct the provider to seek payment from the Fund. However, if a victim does pay a provider, or has other out-of-pocket expenses, VVF can reimburse the victim.
Under the SAFE Payment Program, if the victim submits to forensic evidence collection within 120 hours of the incident, they do not have to report to law enforcement in order for their expenses to be covered.
Under the VVF, a victim must report to law enforcement within 5 days of the incident. Exceptions can be made to this rule under special circumstances, which the victim must explain in a letter. The victim must also cooperate with the investigation of the incident, and the Commonwealth Attorney if they elect to prosecute the case.
Virginia law requires a victim to repay the VVF award if they recover any money in a civil suit against the offender.
If the offender is unknown or deceased, the victim or their claimant can still receive benefit from the Virginia Victims Fund. However, if the offender is known, and not a juvenile, the VVF has a legal obligation to collect the award from the offender.
If restitution was ordered for something that VVF did not pay for, that restitution would go to the victim. VVF will only bill an offender for expenses that have been paid by VVF.
Unclaimed restitution is held in an account where is it identified by the victim’s name, the offender’s name, and some very basic information about the incident. It is held until the locality which sent the unclaimed restitution requests it be returned, using the WC4- Request for Repayment of Unclaimed Restitution.
The Virginia Victims Fund awards claims based on real financial losses that arise from crimes. Victims and their doctors, counselors, and other care providers submit expenses to the Fund. If a victim deemed eligible, then these expenses are paid at a percentage rate predetermined by a Memorandum of Agreement with the provider to whom the money is owed. For other expenses, like moving or prescriptions, receipts are provided. For lost wages, the victim’s employer completes the Employer Report Form to let VVF know how much time the victim has missed from work. All expenses are documented in some way to indicate the loss and advise VVF how much they need to pay.
If a claimant is not satisfied with the decision VVF makes on a claim, an appeals process is available.
Within 45 days of the decision, send a letter to VVF asking for reconsideration. It is important that you respond to the reason for the denial provided in our letter. The Director will issue a new decision, if applicable.
If a claimant does not agree with the Director's reconsideration decision, they may request an appeal to the Commission by writing to the Virginia Victims Fund, P.O. Box 26927, Richmond, VA 23261. Appeal letters should state reasons for dissatisfaction with the decision. Appeals will be heard by a Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission in a location near the address of the crime. At this stage of the appeals process, a claimant will be required to appear at a hearing and to provide evidence that refutes the findings of the Fund. The claimant will be notified of the time and place of the hearing and may request the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to appear and testify.
If the claimant is not satisfied with the Deputy Commissioner’s decision, review by the Full Commission is available (Section 19.2-368.7 of the Code of Virginia). In these cases, the following procedures should be followed:
- Address a written Request for Review to: Virginia Victims Fund, Post Office Box 26927, Richmond, VA 23261.
- The letter must be received within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the Deputy Commissioner’s decision.
- The letter should state the reasons for the claimant’s dissatisfaction with the decision. Unless oral argument is requested, the case will be reviewed on the record by the Full Commission. If oral argument is requested and the Commission determines oral argument to be necessary, a Review Hearing will be scheduled in Richmond, Virginia. At the hearing new evidence may not be presented and testimony by witnesses will not be heard. The claimant or their attorney will be permitted to state the reasons they disagree with the decision. Upon request, this hearing may be done by telephone conference call.
- After reviewing the record, the Full Commission may affirm or modify the Director's decision or it may determine additional evidence is needed and remand the case to a Deputy Commissioner for an Evidentiary Hearing.
- The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission will issue a written Opinion stating its findings. This opinion may be appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals by filing within thirty (30) days a written notice of Appeal with the Clerk of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission accompanied by a $500.00 Appeal bond and Notice to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals with a $50.00 filing fee.
VVF can only reimburse for the replacement of certain kinds of property. These include clothing or bedding that was seized as evidence by law enforcement, medically necessary devices lost or damaged (such as glasses, dentures, etc.), or certain items in the home to ensure security. Doors, windows, and locks may be replaced if they are damaged. Security bars or a home security system can be installed.
There is no income qualification to receive services.
You will receive letters from us giving specific instructions and other information about your claim. It is important that you respond to requests from us as quickly as possible. This will help your claim move quickly.There are 4 types of documents we must collect before we can award a claim.
- Eligibility documents: We request these documents from law enforcement. In some cases, we also ask the Commonwealth Attorney handling your case to answer some questions as well. You are not required to provide any of this information.
- Receipts and bills: We must gather bills to show your outstanding balances and any receipts for items already paid. Some of this documents will come from you, but we will request bills from doctors you see.
- Medical records and statements from doctors: We use this information to verify that the care we pay for is related to the crime. We will write to your doctors and the hospital to request this information.
- Collateral resources: Virginia law requires that you use any insurance that you have first and VVF will cover the remaining balances. If you are not insured, you must apply with the hospital for financial assistance- they will reduce the amount you owe. You must provide the documentation of collateral resources that we request.
The VVF does not share private information with any other entity, unless the victim signs a release of information allowing VVF to do so. If a file is subpoenaed the Fund makes every attempt to limit what information is available and encourages the parties involved to obtain items from other sources (hospitals, police, etc.). The Fund is prohibited by law from releasing reports from law enforcement. Medical providers may contact the Fund to ask about documentation needed to pay an expense- these may only be made in writing. No information is released to medical providers other than a confirmation that we have received all necessary documentation from them.
If a victim would like VVF staff to discuss their claim file or its contents with anyone, they must complete a Permission for Verbal Communications Form.
VVF can only pay for services after they are rendered. VVF never pre-authorizes payment of any expenses. However, providers may direct bill immediately after services are rendered.
- You can apply to VVF for grief counseling as the spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, or child of a homicide victim. This benefit is capped at $3,500 per person.
- Dependents of homicide victim are entitled to receive support from VFF. Social Security Death Benefits would be applied first, with VVF supplementing those benefits.
- You can claim benefits under the Fund on behalf of your child. This includes mileage to doctors, counselors, and court appearances, along with several other benefits.
- We can pay for some counseling sessions for you that specifically address parenting and care of a traumatized child.
If you are not satisfied with the decision VVF makes on your claim, an appeals process is available.
Within 45 days of the decision, send a letter to VVF asking for reconsideration. It is important that you respond to the reason for the denial provided in our letter.
If someone is injured by a crime while they are on the job, they should file with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Virginia Victims Fund. Workers’ Compensation will consider the claim first. Once Worker’s Compensation has made a decision about the claim, the victim should provide that decision letter to VVF. VVF will cover any expenses that Workers’ Compensation does not cover.
VVF requests reports from law enforcement because most of the information needed to determine eligibility is found there.
Under the SAFE Payment Program, federally-funded insurances like Medicaid, Medicare, and Tricare must be billed. The victim can choose not to bill a private insurance.
Under the VVF, all relevant insurances must be billed. If a victim is uninsured and they went to a hospital, they must apply to the hospitals financial assistance program. VVF would cover any additional expense after these collateral resources are used.