In this article, we will go over some types of crime victim compensation available to Louisiana residents who have fallen victim to a crime.
Being the victim of a crime can be a stressful ordeal, not only because of the experience of harm, but also because of the consequences that come after. Between medical expenses, mental health, and even court costs, there can be a lot to deal with financially after you’ve been the victim of a crime.
Luckily, Louisiana law ensures that the victims of crimes can be compensated for their losses, through a number of different methods. Here are three ways crime victims can be compensated in Louisiana:
- The Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund
- Court-ordered restitution
- A separate civil lawsuit
But how long does it take to get crime victim compensation? Our team of attorneys at Wright Gray has helped dozens of families in New Orleans get compensation after they’ve been the victim of a crime. Here’s our breakdown of what kind of timeline you can expect through each of these three methods. Enacted into law by the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Act, the fund is administered by the Crime Victims Reparations Board. Victims can apply through this board and are paid from a fund originating in fines and restitution paid by the perpetrators of the crimes.
How Does Crime Victim Compensation Work in Louisiana?
After you’ve submitted your application, it generally takes 30 to 45 days for the board to come to a decision about whether you’re eligible and which expenses can be covered by the fund. Expect anywhere from one to two months before your payment is actually processed. A more direct way to get compensation from the person responsible for the crime that harmed you is through restitution. These court-ordered payments by the defendant are usually used to cover the victim’s court costs, but in certain cases, as a condition of a plea bargain, the defendant may be required to make a larger payment of restitution to the victim.
Normally, the defendant would be ordered to pay restitution at the time of sentencing. However, Louisiana law allows for the defendant to pay the amount in monthly installments if they can’t afford to pay a lump sum.
So, if you are expecting restitution as a result of a criminal trial, you may receive the total right away, or spread out over several months or years. Both the Crime Victims Reparations Fund and court-ordered restitution generally have strict requirements about which of the victims’ expenses they can cover. The most surefire way to get crime victim compensation for all the losses you’ve suffered as a result of a crime is to sue the person responsible for the crime in a separate civil suit.
At Wright Gray, we’ve represented hundreds of people in this position, and we know that lawsuits like these, although worthwhile, can sometimes be a lengthy process. There are many steps you will have to take:
- Hiring an attorney
- Gathering evidence and preparing your case
- Filing the lawsuit
- Initial negotiations and mediation with the other party
- Going to trial and being awarded a judgment by the court
After all of this, it may take one to two years before you receive your crime victim compensation. That being said, a separate civil lawsuit is still the most certain way to receive compensation for everything you’ve lost as a result of the crime you’ve suffered. If it sounds like a civil lawsuit will take too long, don’t worry. At Wright Gray, we understand how difficult it can be to recover when you or a family member have been the victim of a crime. We can help you apply for Crime Victims Reparations, or represent your interests in the settlement of a criminal trial.
From shooting victims to drunk driving accidents, we have the experience and knowledge of the law to help make sure you receive crime victim compensation for your losses and receive justice for the harm that was done to you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case.