Let’s administer a quick quiz. What do reckless driving and driving under the influence have in common? Yes, they’re both acts that involve driving; but, think a little harder.
As you continue thinking, note that both reckless drivers and drivers that operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated can cause very serious automobile collisions. These collisions can injure innocent victims. To make matters worse, some reckless and impaired drivers may fail to have automobile insurance. Injury is now combined with victims having no recourse to compensation for their damages.
But, let’s return to our initial question. Both reckless driving and driving under the influence can lead to severe criminal charges. How does this involve automobile collisions and uninsured drivers? Well, let’s introduce you to Washington’s Crime Victim Compensation Program (“The Program”).
What Exactly is “The Program?”
The Program essentially helps victims with the costs associated with violent crimes (this includes many criminal acts that take place on our roadways). The Program is administered by the State of Washington and provides financial support to crime victims for certain expenses, such as: medical bills, lost wages and loss of financial support. The Program was born in 1973 with the Crime Victims Compensation Act.
In returning to reckless and impaired drivers for a moment, assume one of these drivers collided with a motor vehicle. The driver of this motor vehicle suffered significant injuries that required extensive medical costs and time off of work. Further assume that the reckless/impaired driver had no automobile insurance (and the injured driver had no uninsured or underinsured policy). With no insurance in place to help compensate the injured driver for his losses, it would seem that he would suffer not only physical injury, but financial injury as well.
This is where The Program comes into play. If a person is eligible for its benefits, the results could help reduce anxiety, protect financial savings and even preserve families. So, how is one eligible for The Program?
There are seven requirements for a person to be eligible for The Program’s benefits. These include:
- The injured party must have suffered bodily injury or severe emotional stress resulting from a crime.
- The crime in question must be classified as a gross misdemeanor or felony.
- The injured party must have filed a report with law enforcement within one year of the date from which the crime occurred.
- The injured party must have been cooperative with law enforcement following the crime.
- The injured party must have filed a timely application for The Program’s benefits (i.e., within two years of the crime or, for good cause, within five years).
- The injured party must have not participated or provoked the criminal act that caused injury.
- The injured party must not have been convicted of a felony within five years preceding the criminal act that caused injury.
What Expenses Does The Program Cover?
If an injured party is eligible for The Program, and if his claim is allowed, then the benefits may prove to be literally life saving. Some of the expenses The Program covers include:
- Medical/dental benefits
- Wage replacement
- Prescription coverage
- Mental health treatment
- Death benefits (e.g., grief counseling and funeral expenses).
We must note that The Program is deemed the “payer of last resort.” The State of Washington uses a set fee schedule to determine any potential medical reimbursement amount. This amount is reduced by any public or private insurance payments. Further, if an injured party receives money from an insurance settlement or from a lawsuit, he must reimburse The Program for any expenses it paid.
Receiving Help Often Means Finding Help
The Program’s benefits can undoubtedly mean a universe of help for an injured party of a violent criminal act. This is especially true if the act involved an automobile collision and the at-fault party failed to have automobile insurance. While The Program can definitely help preserve the financial well-being of a victim, that help often requires the victim to find help himself.
Phillips Law Firm is full of attorneys that have the knowledge and dedication to help a victim receive The Program’s full range of benefits. All a victim has to do is contact us for the help he needs. Our firm is ready to assist today!