While no amount of compensation can erase the physical and emotional trauma experienced by crime victims, the Crime Victim Compensation program strives to reduce some of the financial burdens victims may suffer.The Crime Victims Compensation Act provides financial assistance to help innocent crime victims with crime-related medical expenses. Created in 1978, the Montana Crime Victim Compensation Program can help with loss of wages, medical expenses and funeral expenses incurred as the result of personal injury crimes.
Eligibility RequirementsTo qualify for compensation benefits, applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The crime must be reported to a law enforcement agency within 72 hours or you must show good cause for the delay in reporting. Child sexual abuse cases may be extended.
- Claims must be filed with the Crime Victim Compensation Program within one year of the date of the crime or you must show good cause why it wasn’t filed.
- Claimants must fully cooperate with all law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys in the apprehension and prosecution of the offender.
- An offender or an accomplice of the offender is not eligible for benefits.
- A claimant cannot be awarded benefits if the award would unjustly benefit the offender or accomplice.
- People in prison or residing in any other public institution may not be awarded benefits.
- Benefits may be reduced or denied if a victim contributed to the infliction of death or injury related to the crime.
Benefits may depend on an a person’s relationship to the victim. Here are the definitions used in this program:
- An individual physically or sexually assaulted or a homicide victim.
- Immediate family members of a child victim of sexual abuse.
- Immediate family members of a homicide victim.
- Minor children of a domestic abuse victim who witness the crime at home.
A note about secondary victims:
- Secondary victims are eligible for mental health counseling only up to $2,000.
- Secondary victims cannot be awarded benefits if the primary victim is denied benefits.
Who May File a Claim
The Crime Victim Compensation Program of Montana assists innocent victims of violent crimes who are injured or killed as a direct result of a crime. The claimant and/or victim must meet the eligibility requirements. A claim can only be filed by:
- The victim – a person (over the age of 18) who has suffered direct physical or emotional harm or death as a result of a crime is referred to as the primary victim.
- A parent or legal guardian of a victim who is a minor.
- The spouse or an adult dependent of a deceased victim.
Benefits may be awarded to:
- Non-residents injured in Montana.
- Montana residents injured in a state in which the victim compensation program does not compensate non-residents.
How to File a Claim
If you want to apply for compensation benefits, you must obtain a claim form and file it with our office. There are several ways to obtain a claim form. You can get one at any law enforcement agency, hospital, victim assistance program, or by contacting our office. We can be reached by phone at (406) 444-3653 or 1-800-498-6455.
Our address is:
Crime Victim Compensation Program
P.O. Box 201410, Helena, MT 59620-1410
You may also request a form online below:
Please note: If applying for compensation benefits, a claim can only be filed by the following individuals: the victim, the survivor of a homicide victim, or the parent or legal guardian of a victim who is a minor. All applications must be fully completed. Please be sure to read carefully the Information Release and Repayment and Subrogation Agreement on the back of the claim form. Be sure your application is signed before you send it in.
Benefits may be awarded whether or not the offender was apprehended or prosecuted.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program can pay up to $25,000 in benefits. The benefits are paid directly to the provider or, if the victim has already paid the expenses, to the victim.
Medical Costs – Benefits can be considered for the following medical costs.
- Hospital services
- Physician expenses
- Mental health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Ambulance charges
- Dental treatment
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic services
- Funeral/death benefits
- Wage loss
- Prosthetics and other approved costs
Mental Health – Mental health counseling benefits are available for primary victims and may be available for secondary victims including:
- Certain family members such as the parent, spouse, child, brother or sister of a victim who is killed as a direct result of a crime
- Parents or siblings of a minor who is the victim of a sexual crime
- A step-parent of a minor who is the victim of a sexual crime if the victim resides in the same house as the step-parent
- Minor children of a victim of domestic violence who witness the crime at home
The benefit limit for mental health counseling is $2,000 or one year, whichever occurs first. If additional counseling is needed, primary victims may request an extension. Extensions are not available for secondary victims.
A mental health therapist can be a medical doctor (a psychiatrist), clinical psychologist, licensed social worker or licensed professional counselor. When choosing a mental health therapist, it is a good idea to check that your counselor is licensed by the State of Montana or the state in which you reside.
Benefits are not allowed for:
- Property loss or repairs related to a crime, such as damage to a house or furniture
- Traffic accidents not related to drunk driving or illegal drug use
- Pain and suffering
- Non-medical expenses, like clothing, motels or legal fees
- In-patient psychiatric care or chemical dependency counseling
- Medical, dental or mental health expenses if more that three years have elapsed since the date of the last treatment
The CVC program will begin processing your application the day it is received. Information contained on the application must be verified through law enforcement and other agencies before a decision can be made. The staff will review the law enforcement verification form and investigative report to determine if the application meets the eligibility criteria.
- Additional information may be requested from you. It is important that you respond to our requests as soon as possible. Requested information not received by our office can delay a decision and may lead to your application being put on hold or denied until the required information is submitted.
If your application meets eligibility requirements, you will be notified in writing that benefits have been awarded. Notice of the award is also sent to law enforcement, the city or county attorney, and medical providers listed on the claim form.
If your application does not meet the eligibility criteria, you will be notified in writing of the denial of benefits and the reason for the denial. Notice of the denial is also sent to the law enforcement agency handling the case, the city or county attorney, your attorney (if applicable) and medical providers. Reasons for the denial will not be released to any medical provider.
Payment cannot be made for medical expenses for treatment obtained more than 3 years after the last date of treatment.
Appeals Process – Request for a Hearing
You have the right to request an informal hearing within 30 days of a written determination regarding your claim. Your request must be in writing to the CVC program stating the reason you would like to appeal the decision. The hearing examiner will notify you of the date, time, and place scheduled for the hearing. You will have an opportunity to provide relevant testimony concerning your claim at the time of the hearing. You have the right to bring an attorney to the hearing. The CVC Director will make the final decision.
Crime Victim Compensation Q and A’s
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Victim Support Services
Montana has a wide variety of services available to victims and witnesses of crime. Services are provided by non-profit organizations, law enforcement agencies, prosecution offices and shelter programs, and are available to both primary and secondary victims of crime. The majority of victim assistance programs provide services at no charge. The following is a list of the most common services offered by victim assistance programs.
- Counseling: Crisis intervention and follow-up support and guidance for emotional, personal, financial and employment problems resulting from the crime.
- Criminal Justice Support: Explanation of the criminal justice system, court support, information regarding the progress and disposition of the criminal case, and assistance obtaining restitution.
- Emergency Legal Advocacy: Assistance with filing Orders of Protection, referrals to low-income legal services for help with dissolutions and/or child custody issues, and explanation of victim’s rights and remedies.
- Shelter/Safe House: Shelter may include a domestic violence shelter, private residence or a motel for short-term emergency shelter.
- Crisis Hotline: 24-hour domestic violence and rape hotlines for crisis counseling, advocacy service for crime-related medical exams, information, and referral.
- Information and Referral: Identification of services and support available from the victim assistance program and community agencies.
- Support Groups: Facilitated support groups for adults and children that focus on healing from the emotional impact of domestic violence, sexual abuse/assault and other violent crimes.
- Emergency Financial Assistance: Assistance in filing for losses covered by public and private insurance including worker’s compensation, unemployment, public assistance and Medicare/Medicaid, and financial assistance for public transportation, food, emergency shelter and clothing.
- Assistance Filing Crime Victim Compensation Claims: Information about the CVC program, assistance with required forms, help gathering necessary documentation, and assistance with follow-up contact with CVC on behalf of the victim.
- Personal Advocacy: Assistance in securing services from other agencies, communicating with employers, creditors, landlords and others on behalf of the victim.