By Jedidiah McKeehan
It is never a good thing to be the victim of a crime. If you are, then at best you have endured something annoying, and at worst, you have experienced something that results in life-changing trauma, injury or even death.
When someone is a victim of a crime, the state of Tennessee wants to punish the person who committed the crime, but it is also important to try to assist and aid the victim, if possible.
That is why Tennessee has created the, “Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.” This fund is designed to provide some monetary relief, although not a great deal, to eligible victims to help them try to piece together their lives. A victim can always file a civil lawsuit against the criminal to recoup the personal and property damages they have incurred as a result of the crime that was committed. However, often the criminal does not have any funds to aid a victim. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund is state funded, and alleviates the need for the victims to go through the long and tedious process of filing and pursuing their own lawsuit against the criminal.
Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 29, Chapter 13 contains a great deal of information on this Fund. It goes in to great detail about what kind of offenses and what kind of victims have to be present for the Fund to come in to play.
Individuals who have some level of familiarity with this Fund may have heard the amount of $2,500.00 as the maximum amount awarded to victims. Certainly, no one is getting rich off of $2,500.00, or re-piecing their life after a serious physical injury. Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-13-106 actually states that the maximum award that can be provided under this Fund is $30,000.00.
Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-13-107 lays out the various injuries that can be compensated and in what amounts.
If someone experiences disabilities caused by a violent crime, they will be compensated in accordance with the worker’s compensation statutes, however, paying the individual 85% of their normal wage.
If someone experiences pain and suffering as a victim of a sexually-oriented crime, they are not to be compensated more than $3,000.00.
If someone is killed as a result of the crime, up to $6,000.00 can be awarded for funeral and burial expenses.
If someone requires mental health counseling or treatment, they can receive up to $3,500.00.
If someone requires medical treatment as a result of being the victim, the Fund will pay up to 75% of the medical bills until the maximum amount of compensation is reached.
Again, this amount of money is not anything that anyone will be getting rich and retiring on, but it can be helpful in providing relief to victims. This Fund also allows the recovery of attorney’s fees, so if you feel uncomfortable trying to access this money yourself, you may want to enlist the assistance of an attorney.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, divorce, custody, personal injury, landlord-tenant, civil litigation and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.