Crime Victim Compensation

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 Requirements

To 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:

Primary Victim:

  • An individual physically or sexually assaulted or a homicide victim.

Secondary 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:

To request a claim form, please enter your address here and briefly describe your situation.

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.

 
Compensation Benefits
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
 
Payment Reductions
If you are covered by any kind of private or government benefit program, you MUST submit your expenses to that program before you submit them to the CVC program. Here is a list of benefit program a person may be covered by: IHS, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, sick leave, health insurance, motor vehicle insurance, life insurance, employer wage plans, workers compensation, disability insurance, VA benefits, civil suits, restitution.

Restitution

Restitution is payment a victim receives from the person who committed the crime. Compensation benefits will be reduced by the amount of restitution you have received at the time a claim is processed for payment. If the offender is ordered to pay restitution, but has not yet made payment, the CVC program will pay benefits on your behalf. Please remember, if the program has fully paid all your eligible expenses and/or reimbursed you for all your out-of-pocket expenses, any restitution you receive must be paid back to CVC.

Insurance

All crime related bills must be submitted to your insurance carrier for payment determination prior to submission to the CVC program. CVC benefits can be determined only after insurance benefits have been paid or denied. CVC benefits can be paid for your out-of-pocket expenses, including any required deductible or co-payment.

Payment from other federally funded programs

Medicaid is also a primary payer to the CVC program. If you are on Medicaid at the time of the crime, Medicaid is the primary payer for medical expenses.
It is very important that you advise the program of any pending civil action being taken as a result of the crime. The CVC program is entitled to full subrogation (repayment to CVC) against a civil judgment or recovery you receive. If you institute the action, CVC shall pay a proportional share of the attorney’s costs and fees if the civil action is successful.

IF YOU ARE ON MEDICAID, INDIAN HEALTH SERVICES OR RECEIVE VA BENEFITS, PLEASE NOTE: Any hospital or medical provider, or mental health counselor who accepts Medicaid, IHS, or VA patients must accept those payments as payment in full and cannot bill you or the CVC program for any remaining balances. If you become Medicaid eligible at any time please notify CVC immediately.

 
Verification Process

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.
 
Approval Process

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.

 
Denial Process

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.

 
Supplemental Benefits

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.

Penalty for fraudulently obtaining benefits: Any person who knowingly makes a false claim or a false statement, or who uses any other fraudulent device in connection with any claim, is guilty of theft and, if convicted, in addition to other penalties, will forfeit and repay any compensation paid under 53-9-111 of the Montana Code Annotated.
 

Crime Victim Compensation Q and A’s

Click on the question to show the answer.

How long will it take to receive a decision on compensation benefits?

It is the goal of the CVC program to make a decision about your claim within 60 days. Some applications may take longer if CVC is waiting for additional information.

Should I send in copies of medical bills along with the application?

Yes, send copies of the bills with the application. Also submit a copy of the explanation of benefits (EOB) from the insurance company as soon as you receive it.

If I am a victim of domestic violence, can I receive compensation if I’m living with the offender?

Yes, domestic violence victims who live with the offender may still be eligible to receive compensation if the other eligibility requirements are met. However, if the award would unjustly benefit the offender, benefits may be denied.

When can children of homicide victims receive loss of support benefits?

Loss of support benefits can be awarded to children of homicide victims who did not live with the victim if the victim was contributing to the care or support of the children.

What compensation benefits are available for secondary victims?

The parents, step-parents, siblings, step-siblings, and children of primary victims can receive mental health counseling benefits if the primary victim is either a victim of a homicide or a child victim of a sexual offense. Step-parents and step-siblings must reside with the victim at the time of the crime to be eligible. The minor children of a victim of domestic violence who witness the crime at home are also eligible for mental health counseling.

Can the secondary victim receive benefits if benefits have been denied to the primary victim?

No, in order for a secondary victim to receive compensation benefits, the primary victim must meet the eligibility requirements of the Crime Victim Compensation program.

What is contribution?

Contribution is conduct on the part of the victim that may have caused or contributed to the injuries or death. This conduct may include being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, aggressive behavior, etc. When reviewing information regarding contribution, the CVC program considers whether charges are filed against you or the suspect, comparable or reasonable force, age of the victim and issues of mutual combat.

Does the Program pay for stolen or damaged property?

No, the CVC program cannot pay for stolen property. CVC may pay for such items as eyeglasses, hearing aids, or prosthetic devices damaged or necessary as a result of the physical injury.

Should I wait to file an application until after the offender has been arrested or convicted?

No, you should apply for Crime Victim Compensation as soon as possible after the crime. Compensation is not based upon the arrest or conviction of the offender.

Can I receive compensation if the offender has been ordered to pay restitution?

Yes, you can apply for compensation if restitution has been ordered. If restitution has been ordered and you are an eligible victim, benefits can still be paid. The CVC program will advise the prosecuting attorney that you have been awarded compensation benefits and any expenses not paid by another source (such as insurance) will be paid by CVC. Any restitution payments received by you for the same expenses submitted to CVC will be deducted from the total compensation payment.

If I received compensation, can I sue the offender for the injuries sustained in the crime?

Yes, you may still sue the offender (or any other liable party) for damages caused by the crime. The CVC program is entitled to reimbursement if the civil settlement includes payment for the same expenses previously paid by CVC.

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.