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Jim Hawkins: Tennessee help for violent crime victims

Jim Hawkins • Sep 27, 2018 at 5:46 PM

Some crimes make headlines like “assault,”  “robbery,”  “homicide” or “drunk driving.” 

Tennessee has a criminal injuries compensation program to help victims and dependents of violent crimes, who often suffer long after the headlines.

Here are some questions and answers about the program:  

Q. What does this program do, and who pays for it?

This state of Tennessee Treasury Department operates this program. It makes payments of up to $32,000 to innocent victims of violent crimes committed on or after July 1, 2017 or their families when a victim is killed. 

Q. What are the eligibility conditions?

Eligibility depends on several conditions:

• the victim, or the survivors, generally must report the crime to law enforcement within 48 hours.

• the victim must not have contributed to the criminal activity. For example, a passenger hurt while riding with a drunk driver might not be eligible.

• the victim must cooperate with law enforcement officials who investigate and prosecute the crime.

• claims must be filed within one year of the injury or death, unless the victim is a child. Children have until age 19 to file.

Q. What expenses are covered?

Benefits can be used to compensate for expenses not covered by insurance, including:

• medical or mental health expenses.

• lost wages.

• permanent disability.

• death benefits, including funeral and burial expenses.

• crime scene cleanup.

• moving expenses, if the crime happened in the victim’s home.

• travel expenses in order to attend the trial;

• other financial losses or expenses not listed above that were actually incurred by the victim.

• pain and suffering, but only for victims of sexually-oriented crimes. Tennessee is one of only two states that allow compensation for such pain and suffering.

Applications for benefits are available through district attorneys’ offices and through the treasury department at 615-741-2734. Information is also online at treasury.tn.gov/injury. 

Jim Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney in Gallatin. This column represents legal information and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. Call 615-452-9200 to suggest future column topics.

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