Q: I understand Ohio has a Victim of Crime Compensation program. What does the program do?
A: Ohio’s Victim of Crime Compensation program reimburses crime victims, their families and others who may incur specific expenses as a result of a crime of violence, including medical bills, lost wages, counseling, and funeral expenses. Recently the program was amended to cover reimbursement for additional expenses such as hearing aids, dental aids, glasses, walkers and wheelchairs. Reimbursement for expenses is considered after all payments or adjustments from insurance providers or other available sources have been made.
Q: How would I qualify for this program?
A: If you were a victim of a crime and have incurred out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance or another source, you might be eligible for this program. Family members of an injured victim also may be eligible under certain circumstances.
Q: What if the person who hurt me was a family member?
A: You still are eligible to apply for this program. In addition, the program may pay for an attorney to help you get a protective order, as long as the order requires physical separation between you and the offender.
Q: Do I need to make a police report in order to qualify for the program?
A: Yes. The victim must file a police report and cooperate with law enforcement personnel. The former 72-hour deadline for filing a police report has been eliminated, however.
Q: What if the person who injured me was never officially charged with a crime?
A: The person does not have to be charged with or convicted of a crime for you to participate in the program. However, you must cooperate fully with law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting the person who injured you.
Q: Can I receive compensation for pain and suffering through this program?
Q: Can I receive compensation for stolen, damaged or lost property?
A: Generally, no. However, reimbursements for crime scene cleanup and repairs for safety, items taken for evidence and the replacement cost for clothing damaged due to medical treatment and assessment may be available.
Q: Must I file a claim for compensation through the program within a certain amount of time?
A: An adult victim can file any time after the crime has occurred. In the case of a minor, a claim must be filed within two years of the person’s 18th birthday or within two years after a complaint, indictment or information is filed against the offender, whichever is later.
Q: Is there any restriction on who can participate in the program?
A: Yes. For example, you are ineligible for the program if you were the person who committed the crime or you engaged in misconduct that caused or contributed to your injuries. Certain types of criminal history will also disqualify you. More details are available from the Ohio Attorney General's office (www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/victimcompensation.aspx).
Q: Must I use an attorney in order to get help through this program?
A: No. Crime victims are not required to have an attorney for this program. However, if you choose to use an attorney to assist you in applying for compensation, the attorney’s fee will not be deducted from your award.
Q: Do I have to pay the attorney if I decide to use one to help me apply for compensation?
A: No. After your claim is resolved, the attorney who worked on your claim should submit his or her attorney fees to the Victim of Crime Compensation program for consideration. There is no fee to you.
Q: How can I learn more?
A: For more details about Ohio’s Victim of Crime Compensation program you may contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5VICTIM (1-800-282-0515) or visit www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/victimcompensation.aspx.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Cleveland-area attorney Deborah Zaccaro Hoffman.