AG Coakley Applauds Update to Victim Compensation Statute
Increases Compensation Levels for Certain Victim Services; Funds Available to Aid Victims of Boston Marathon Bombings
BOSTON – The Massachusetts House and Senate today passed important changes to the state’s victim compensation legislation as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget that increase individual payments for funeral and burial costs as well as creates a new catastrophic injury category for those victims suffering lifelong disability.
Attorney General Martha Coakley advocated for these updates through an amendment sponsored by Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster). The update broadens the assistance options available to victims without the need for additional funding or raising the existing cap on victim compensation.
“These critical improvements to our victim compensation laws will ensure that victims receive needed services,” said AG Coakley. “I want to thank Senator Flanagan for her sponsorship of this important legislation, as well as the House and Senate for their leadership and swift action so these changes can take place immediately.”
“It was very important to file this amendment on behalf of all victims of violent crime and their families,” said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster). “I’m thankful to both the Attorney General and the Senate membership for taking this measure into consideration. We are now able to offer greater assistance for burial expenses for those who have senselessly lost their lives. Also, we are able to provide other protections for victims, who by no fault of their own, have sustained horrific injuries.”
The Victims of Violent Crimes Compensation statute authorizes the AG’s Office to provide eligible victims of violent crimes and their families with financial assistance for certain expenses that arise as the direct result of a crime. Specially, the updates to the victim compensation statute included in the FY2014 budget will:
- Increase the funeral and burial expenses cap from $6,500 to $8,000 to ensure that we are able to assist with these expenses which are consistent with the industry costs in Massachusetts;
- Establish a catastrophic injury amount of $50,000 for those victims who suffer lifelong disability injuries due to a violent crime; and
- Provide temporary debt collection protection for eligible claimants.
In response to the Boston Marathon attack, AG Coakley and the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) have been providing information about the resources, services and financial support available to victims of the marathon bombings, including compensation that is available through the Victim Compensation Fund. Additional resources can be found on their websites at www.mass.gov/mova and at www.mass.gov/ago.
In April 2009, AG Coakley, along with over 20 legislators from around the state, filed legislation to update victim compensation laws by broadening assistance options available to victims of violent crimes. Updates to this law were passed in July 2010. The bill allowed the AG’s office to update its regulations and raise the compensation amounts available to eligible victims and their families for crime scene clean-up, the replacement of clothing and bedding seized as evidence, repair or installation of locks, and counseling for parents of minor aged victims.
The Victim Compensation Fund, administered by the AG’s Office, assists eligible victims and their families with expenses that are not covered by other funding sources. The Attorney General's Victim Compensation & Assistance Division is able, by statute, to provide financial assistance to eligible victims of violent crime for uninsured medical and dental care, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, and loss of income or financial support as a result of crime-related injury. The AG's Victim Compensation & Assistance Division is funded largely by fines levied against perpetrators of crime.