Understanding Homicide Victims Compensation In Florida

Losing a loved one to homicide can be emotionally crippling and financially devastating for the family members left behind. In Florida, you may be able to recover benefits to assist you during this difficult time. You may also be able to sue the person responsible for the homicide for damages in civil court.

The civil lawyers at Edwards Pottinger LLC can help you apply for benefits and file your claim for additional damages. Give us a call whenever you are ready to hold your loved one’s killer liable: 954-524-2820.

Am I Eligible For Crime Victim Compensation Benefits?

In addition to the emotional pain of losing a loved one, the family members of homicide victims (e.g., surviving spouses, parents, children, or siblings of the deceased) often face financial difficulties.

In many cases, the loss of the decedent’s income, on top of medical bills and funeral/burial costs, may be impossible for some families to handle. Fortunately, many homicide victims’ families are eligible to receive benefits from the Bureau of Victim Compensation. These benefits will help cover:

Loss of support
Medical treatment expenses
Mental health counseling
Grief counseling
Funeral/burial expenses
How Can I Recover Victims’ Compensation?

No matter what the crime, to qualify for crime victim compensation, you must meet a number of requirements, including the following:

Report the incident to police within 72 hours (there are some exceptions to this rule)
Victim must have suffered injury or death while not engaged in unlawful activities.
Victim/victim’s family must not be at fault for the injuries or death.
Victim/victim’s family’s costs must not be payable by another program (e.g., Medicaid) or insurance.
Our attorneys have years of experience handling homicide and victim’s compensation claims and will review your case to determine if you qualify for benefits.

Next, your family must submit an application with the Bureau of Victim Compensation. We will need to include:

A completed and signed application
Police report documenting the crime
Bills and other proof of expenses
Evidence of insurance payments or other third party payments
Once we submit your claim to the Bureau, it will go over your application and determine whether it needs more information about the crime. If so, we will handle the process of obtaining whatever information it needs.

Filing a Lawsuit

Not all homicide victims’ families qualify for victim compensation from the state. Even if your family qualifies, the fund generally does not provide damages for noneconomic costs such as emotional trauma. That is why filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court is a good option for many grieving families.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will require us to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendants caused your loved one’s death by acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. This means that in order to recover damages, there must be at least a 51 percent chance that the defendants were responsible for the death of your loved one. We will show that:

A death occurred.
The defendants acted negligently or intentionally.
The defendants’ actions caused the decedent’s death.
We must also establish that the plaintiffs are survivors of the decedent under law (e.g., spouse, parent, child of decedent) and are suffering financially because of the death.

Proving a wrongful death claim will require evidence of the crime as well as causation. In order to prove your claim we will:

Establish crime details by presenting witnesses, photos and video, weapons used, and the police report completed by an officer on the scene.
Prove the defendants were acting negligently or intentionally. We will use witnesses and other evidence to show the person responsible for the homicide acted negligently or with intent to injure or kill. We may also establish that property owners and other defendants were liable for not providing security or failing to keep the property safe.
Establish causation by presenting expert testimony from medical experts, medical reports, and other documentation to show the reason for the death.
Present a death certificate to confirm the death and family records to prove the relationships between the plaintiffs and the decedent.
Present pay stubs, medical bills, household services costs, and other expense reports to show that the family is suffering financially.
Once both sides present their arguments, the court will make a decision. If we are successful, the court will likely award your family with damages for the death of your loved one. These damages may include both economic and noneconomic compensation.

The attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC know that nothing can erase the pain of losing a loved one in a homicide. However, filing a victim’s compensation claim or a wrongful death lawsuit can give you the financial support you need to allow you to focus on your grief. To find out more about how we can help you, contact our staff at 954-524-2820.