Winter Haven Shooting on April 24, 2012-Victim Compensation
In light of recent events on Lake Howard on April 24, 2012, where 2 men were murdered and a third was left in critical condition, I thought it was an appropriate time to discuss Victim Compensation in the state of Florida. The state of Florida provides several services to crime victims throughout the state. This article will specifically discuss what is referred to as Victim Compensation or Crimes Compensation. Chapter 960 of Florida Statute provides for the fair treatment of victims and witnesses exposed to the criminal and juvenile justice system. It provides that victims have an opportunity to have a defendant tested for HIV and hepatitis if there was a transmission of bodily fluids during the crime, designates a Victim’s Compensation Trust Fund to assist victims of violent crimes to pay for certain expenses, and awards compensation to elderly persons or disabled adults for property loss.
The following persons are eligible for victim assistance in Florida:
a) A victim.
b) An intervenor.
c) A surviving spouse, parent or guardian, sibling, or child of a deceased victim or intervenor.
d) Any other person who is dependent for his or her principal support upon a deceased victim or intervenor.
However, there are some specific facts that may render you ineligible for an award such as you have committed or aided in the crime upon which the claim for compensation was based, you were in jail at the time of the crime upon which the claim for compensation was based, and/or you have been determined to be a habitual felony offender, habitual violent offender, or violent career criminal. The Crime Victim’s Services Office may find that there is an existence of mitigating or special circumstances that would render such a disqualification unjust, and the award may be approved.
If you are a victim or a family member is a victim of a violent crime such as rape (sexual battery), murder, aggravated battery, getting in a car accident with a drunk driver (DUI),or a hit and run accident, and you are not disqualified under the statute, you may qualify for numerous benefits. These benefits include payment of loss wages, disability, payment of funeral and burial expenses, payment for medical treatment, payment of prescriptions, help for victims to get dentures and other prosthetic devices needed as a result of the crime, mental health counseling, domestic violence relocation, and property loss reimbursement for the elderly (age 60 and older) and/or disabled adults.
In order to apply for Crime Victim’s Compensation you will need to complete and sign a claim form which can be found online at http://myfloridalegal.com. You will need a law enforcement offense report documenting proof of a compensable crime, specifically an incident report number. The alleged perpetrator/suspect does not necessarily need to be charged with the crime or convicted of the crime for you to qualify. You will also need proof of crime related expenses and/or lost wages.
There are also some other requirements such as the crime must be reported to law enforcement within 72 hours and the application must be filed within one year after the crime or within two years if good cause is shown for filing late. Please be aware that a criminal background check will be conducted on all victims and/or claimants who submit a claim. Remember that just because you have previously been found guilty of a crime, such as trespassing, does not automatically exclude you from qualifying for an award. Most of the crimes that disqualify victims or claimants are for violent crimes or being a habitual offender, please refer to the website listed above or Florida Statute for the specifics.
These days it appears as though violent crimes can strike anywhere even just down the road in sleepy Winter Haven. If you, a family member, or a friend is a victim of a violent crime please educate yourself on your potential options to help you address any physical and psychological injury you have suffered because of someone else’s negligence or bad actions. Such negligence can and does include property owners such as apartment complexes and gas stations who regularly do not properly warn guests of potential dangers, which in Florida, include previous crimes in the area. If you were not properly warned of foreseeable dangers at a business or while a visitor at a gas station, apartment complex, or other premises and suffer mental or physical injury, please contact our firm so we can answer any questions you have about a potential legal claim. Also, if you were a victim of a sexual battery and/or shooting that could have been prevented by an apartment complex or building owner with proper warnings, lighting, security or locks on the doors, please contact our firm at any time to discuss the remedies that maybe available to you. Call us at 888-We-Mean-It (888-936-3264).
Victim Services currently maintains several offices throughout Florida, including offices in Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.