How to Apply for the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program

The Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVCP) is a public assistance program designed to assist crime survivors with expenses that can’t be covered through any other means.

You might be eligible for this assistance if all of these statements are true for you:

  1. You live in Georgia
  2. You’ve suffered some form of financial harm due to someone else’s violent crime
  3. There’s an official record of the crime
  4. You were not incarcerated or participating in any criminal activity at the time of the crime.
  5. You have no applicable insurance, or your insurer has denied part or all your claim
  6. The crime took place less than three years ago, or it took place while you were under 18, and you are not yet 21

You do not need to be a direct victim of the crime, or have suffered physical harm, in order to qualify for CVCP coverage. The financial harm you suffered could be a need for counseling after witnessing an act of violence, expenses from the death of a loved one, or even damage to your property during the course of the crime.

The CVCP can also help if you are in the process of escaping domestic violence. If you are financially dependent on someone who has committed a violent crime against you or your child, you can apply for coverage to replace their financial support while you transition to a new living situation.

Get Your Documentation in Order

The documentation requirements for a CVCP payout are quite strict. For your claim to be approved, you will need:

  • A copy of the official incident report, from the police department or another investigative organization handling the case. If your claim is based on you or your child being a victim or witness to the crime, the report should list you as such.
  • Proof of your expenses, such as medical receipts or documentation of missed work.
  • A medical release form (if the CVCP will need access to your medical records to confirm any part of your claim).
  • A death certificate (if your claim involves the death of a family member).

You do not necessarily need to provide any of these documents in order to submit an application and begin the CVCP claims process, but the program will not approve any payments until the documentation is complete.

The more documentation you can include with your initial application, the faster the process is likely to be. However, if you are in danger of reaching the end of your three-year application window, it’s best to file your claim immediately and then work with CVCP to complete it.

Submit Your Application

To file your claim, go to the Crime Victims Compensation Program website, print out the application form, and fill it out.

The application will include questions about the types of expenses you are claiming, and what other sources of compensation you have pursued or are considering. You will need to sign an agreement to reimburse the CVCP if you end up receiving compensation from elsewhere, and give your consent for the relevant use of certain personal information, including your criminal record.

Be sure to sign the form manually in ink, and send it by mail to the address included on the form and website. The CVCP does not accept digital, printed, or photocopied signatures.

Estimate Your Possible Claim Total

When applying for compensation from the CVCP, it’s important to be aware that there are rigid caps on the amount you can recover this way.

Regardless of what your actual expenses have been or will be, this program will pay no more than:

  • $3,000 for counseling
  • $15,000 for other medical bills
  • $6,000 for funerary expenses
  • $10,000 for lost work income
  • $10,000 for other lost financial support
  • $1,500 for crime scene cleanup

You have the right to apply for coverage for more than one type of expense, but your total across all categories cannot exceed $25,000. Being approved for compensation in one of these categories also does not guarantee you the full amount for that category.

The CVCP calculates payments based on your actual documented expenses, not on the average costs for people in similar situations. Many crime survivors end up facing significant lost earnings and assorted expenses that are linked to the trauma in difficult-to-prove ways, so unless the crime’s impact on you was relatively small, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all of your costs this way.

There May Be More Compensation Available to You Than You Realize

If you’re turning to the CVCP for help, you’ve probably already examined a number of other options as well. You may have wondered if you can sue the person who committed the crime, but dismissed this possibility because the criminal has not been caught, or simply has no assets that could be put toward your settlement.

What many crime survivors don’t realize, however, is that property and business owners share some legal responsibility for crime prevention.

If the crime that harmed you took place on a property you do not own, you may be able to sue the landlord for compensation, especially if the landlord knew about past violent threats or incidents and failed to provide appropriate security.

You might also be able to sue certain business owners for contributing to the crime in other ways. For example, a bar might be liable for continuing to serve an already drunk and disorderly customer, who then went on to attack you or your loved one.

Although rare, there are even situations where you might be able to sue a gun seller for serving a customer the seller knew had criminal intentions.

It’s Okay to Find Better Compensation Than What the CVCP Can Offer

It’s true that you will need to reimburse the CVCP if you win compensation elsewhere, and that may sound intimidating, but mathematically, you have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by pursuing a legitimate civil suit.

You will never owe the CVCP more than you actually receive from your civil suit, or more than the program paid you in the first place.

So, for example, if the CVCP pays you $3,000, and then a court also awards you $3,000 or less for the same incident, the CVCP will take your settlement as reimbursement, but you’ll still keep that first $3,000 you received from the program. Essentially, you’re right back where you would have been without the civil suit, with nothing lost and nothing gained.

It’s much more likely, however, that a court settlement will be significantly larger than a CVCP payment. So, if the CVCP pays you $3,000 and then a court awards you $30,000, you would pay the CVCP back its $3,000 and keep the $30,000 — leaving you with $27,000 more than you would have had if you’d stuck with just your CVCP payment and not filed a civil suit.

The CVCP is only really intended to help people survive moments of extreme financial hardship caused by crime, whereas civil rulings are intended to compensate victims completely for the negligence of others. In addition to immediate expenses, a civil settlement will typically account for a wide range of losses, including physical pain, emotional suffering, and expected costs over the course of a lifetime. It all adds up to a big difference in probable payouts

If you are considering filing for CVCP assistance, waiting for a response to your application, or struggling to cover your expenses in spite of already receiving a CVCP payment, it’s a good idea to check with a lawyer to see whether a civil suit might be able to provide better coverage.

Feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time to discuss your situation with a Stoddard Firm attorney in a completely free consultation.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury LawyerMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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