New Jersey’s Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) has a fund to help with costs related to injuries suffered by innocent victims of violent crime or their families. The crimes covered include aggravated assault, assault by auto, bias crimes, victim present during a burglary, carjacking, child abuse, domestic violence, drug and food tampering, DWI, eluding a police officer, hit and run, homicide (including vehicular) or murder, human trafficking, kidnapping, lewd and indecent acts, sexual related crimes, stalking and other crimes of violence (ex. robbery, arson).
Who is eligible for assistance from the VCCO?
- A victim of a violent crime who has suffered injury (actual bodily harm, pregnancy or mental/emotional trauma) or was killed as result of a compensable crime, or
- A surviving spouse, parent, guardian, or other person who is dependent for support on a victim who has died as a result of a crime or a parent filing on behalf of a minor, or
- A person injured while trying to prevent a crime, or
- A person injured while trying to assist a police officer in making an arrest, or
- Secondary victims include those who have sustained injury (usually mental health) or pecuniary loss as it directly relates to the crime committed upon a member of the secondary victim’s family or upon any person in a close relationship with the secondary victim.
Who is not eligible for assistance?
- A victim who lives outside of New Jersey
- A victim of a crime committed in a state other than New Jersey
- A victim who did not sustain personal injury or mental trauma
- A victim who does not cooperate with law enforcement
- A victim who was in jail when the crime occurred
- A victim who contributed to the crime
- A victim who was engaging in illegal activity at the time of the crime with pending criminal charges
- Anyone who has outstanding warrants
- A victim of a motor vehicle or boating accident (with certain exceptions)
Common Crimes Not Covered
- Economic crimes
- Identity theft
- Property damage or loss (unless domestic violence)
What kinds of benefits are available from the VCCO?
- Expenses for medical treatment
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of earnings for a surviving spouse whose earning capacity has been reduced
- Loss of support from the victim for dependents
- Loss of support from the offender in domestic violence cases
- Funeral Costs up to $7,500
- Limited transportation costs
- Mental health counseling (homicide survivor, injured victim, secondary victim, group counseling) up to $20,000
- Limited domestic service, child care, day care, and after-school care costs up to $6,500
- Loss of prescription eyeglasses
- Crime scene cleanup up to $4,000
- Relocation expenses up to $3,000
- Attorney fees for representation of victim in a criminal matter up to $3,000
- Attorney fees for representation in VCCO process up to 15% of the VCCO award
- Emergency financial assistance up to $1,500; if you are employed and unable to work and face undue hardship as a result of the crime
- Supplemental $35,000 for rehabilitative services for catastrophic events only (counseling services, vehicle or home modifications, speech therapy)
The VCCO will pay crime-related expenses only after a victim or eligible person applies to other sources, such as State disability insurance, workers compensation, etc. Life insurance and private donations are not considered other sources. All medical bills must be first submitted to insurance providers; uninsured victims must first apply for Charity Care for hospital bills and submit award or denial letters to VCCO. If there is no coverage, bills should be presented to the VCCO as soon as possible. All bills will be verified in order to establish accuracy and relationship to the crime.
The VCCO generally does not compensate for property loss or pain and suffering
What are the requirements to apply for reimbursement from the VCCO?
A person wishing to apply for reimbursement from the VCCO must:
- Complete and submit a VCCO application no later than five years from the date of the crime
- If the victim is under the age of 18, the five year limit on filing shall commence on the victim’s 18th birthday
- Report the crime to law enforcement within nine months
- There may be an exception to the time limits listed above in certain circumstances when the victim or victims were not appropriately informed of the benefits offered by the Office as required by law
An applicant should also supply these additional documents, if possible:
- A police report, restraining order, Division of Child Protection & Permanency investigation report, or Prosecutor’s Office investigation report
- Copies of bills, receipts, or other documentation of expenses
- Documentation of economic loss
- Psychological assessment form
- Copies of any documents related to insurance coverage
The maximum benefit available is $25,000 per victim. However, if it is determined that the event caused a catastrophic injury, a person may be eligible for a supplemental amount of $35,000 for rehabilitative services only.
What can I do if my application is denied?
Within 6 months the agency will render a decision once all necessary documentation has been submitted. A victim may appeal if an application for assistance is denied. The appeal must be made within 20 days of receiving the denial. An applicant will receive notice of the hearing, but not less than 15 days prior to when it is to be scheduled. All materials should be presented at this hearing; good cause must be shown for failure to appear at the hearing. After the hearing, the victim may file a formal appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days from the date that the VCCO’s order is received.
How do I get an application for compensation from the VCCO?
Applications are available at each county prosecutor’s office, law enforcement agency and medical institution in New Jersey, as well as online. The online application and further information can be found by visiting the VCCO website.
You may also call the VCCO at 1 (877) 658-2221 Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Translation services are also available in Spanish through VCCO in order to assist you in processing your claim.
The VCCO Web site contains other important information relating to services for victims, including the VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday) program, which allows victims access to information about whether or not their assailant has been released from jail. You may register with VINE by calling 1 (877) VINE-4-NJ or 1 (877) 846-3465 or by visiting the VINE website.