RD384 - Virginia Victims Fund (Officially the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund) Annual Report Fiscal Year 2019

Executive Summary:

Citing the Commonwealth’s “moral responsibility" to provide financial assistance to victims of crime, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, working as the Virginia Victims Fund (the Fund), was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1977 to pay unreimbursed expenses of innocent victims of crime who suffered physical or emotional injury or death (§ 19.2-368.1, Code of Virginia). In 2008, the Fund also established the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Payment Program as the result of changes to § 19.2-165.1 of the Code of Virginia, which tasked the Fund with payment of expenses associated with forensic evidence collection for victims of sexual assault in the Commonwealth. The Fund is administered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.

For forty-one years, the Fund has assisted victims of crime and their families by easing the financial burden that crime often creates, providing relief in the form of reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, relocation, counseling costs and other “necessary and reasonable" expenditures incurred by the victim. Since its inception, the Fund has processed over 55,924 claims from victims of violent crime.

The Fund is funded by court fees, assessments on offenders and restitution. The monies awarded to victims of crime in conjunction with compensation claims are not funded through state tax dollars.

Additionally, the Fund receives federal grant funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to supplement monies available to victims of violent crime. VOCA funds are generated by court fines at the federal level. The Fund’s SAFE Program receives General Fund monies via dollars designated to the Supreme Court of Virginia to reimburse for sexual assault evidence collection expenses.

Apprehension and conviction of the offender are not prerequisites for a crime victim’s eligibility.

By law, the Fund is the payer of last resort, assisting victims with expenses that are not covered by any other source. While the Fund does consider claimants’ collateral resources, assistance from the Fund is not income-based. The statutorily designated maximum payout amount is $25,000 for crimes occurring after July 1, 2007 and $15,000 for crimes occurring prior to July 1, 2007.

Under the policies and guidelines of the SAFE Program, the Fund pays for forensic evidence in sexual assault cases regardless of the victim’s involvement with the criminal justice system, as in accordance with state and federal law.

To address as many compensable expenses as possible, the Fund negotiates bills with medical providers on behalf of claimants. The Fund has established standing negotiation agreements with over 1,900 medical providers. These memoranda of agreements, as required by a 2010 amendment to Code of Virginia § 19.2-368.3, further require that health care providers accept payment from the Fund as payment in full without billing the patient for any remaining balances. While, the SAFE program has a separate memoranda of agreement on file with all hospitals that have forensic programs; the Fund continually works to increase memoranda of agreements with pharmacies.