Starting the Appeal Process with Crime Victims Board in NYS
Posted Nov 30 2009 10:03pm
Last week Crime Victims Board in NYS partially denied my claim, and since then I have been working on starting the appeal process with Rockland Family Shelter. Being a victim of domestic violence, my medical records are inaccurate and do not state domestic violence as the cause for my injuries. This situation is common for many domestic violence victims and survivors because many women are in fear of their life and in fear of violent retaliation from their abusers. As a result of fear and shame, victims of this crime do not report to the police or to medical staff, and this leaves victims at a disadvantage at so many levels. I am one of those women that was in fear and had a lot of shame, and as a result, the documentation I have from police officers and doctors are confusing and inaccurate. And as a result of my medical records, CVB has partially denied my claim, and I am left to start an appeal with the help of my shelter.
Crime Victims Board is a state program that is funded by federal grant dollars, our tax dollars, penalty charges from the state, and the legislature. This program compensates innocent victims of crime for various injuries, funeral costs, moving expenses, etc. Although I have stated this in the past, this program is not prepared to handle DV claims, which are very complex and confusing claims to process. Crime Victims Board must have police reports and medical records to back all injuries a claimant wants compensation for, and if there is anything that is unclear, they usually deny the claim. For all other crimes, except domestic violence, this system seems to work. There are medical records that state the cause of injury, there are accurate police reports, and everything seems cut and dry. But, for domestic violence crimes, claims are confusing and accurate medical records and police records may not exist, putting the victim at a complete disadvantage when trying to receive compensation. I've suggested that NYS CVB look into this situation, and form a specialized DV unit to address these specific claims where the documentation may be lacking for DV victims. Instead, NYS Crime Victims Board and other state compensation programs, deny DV victims due to lack of information or inaccurate medical records, never taking into consideration the fear factor a victim of DV has during intimate partner abuse.
After CVB denies a domestic violence victim, the victim has the right to appeal the decision and prove their case. The Chair designates three other Board Members to make a final decision on the claim, and if it is denied again, CVB will pay $1,000 to the denied victim for a civil lawyer. Yes, the program that is given federal grant money for victims of crimes can deny the victim and then still have extra funds to pay for the victim's lawyer so that the victim can sue them. This seems like a good way to spend tax dollars. Rather than understand this complex crime, and try to find solutions to this situation for all domestic violence victims, NYS Crime Victims Board rather deny my claim, force the Rockland Family Shelter to work long hours on helping me appeal the decision, and then, eventually pay for my lawyer so that I can civilly sue them for their decision. Complex is an understatement. This is becoming foolish, and I think it is a big waste of federal dollars.
For the next few weeks I will be writing about my experiences with this appeal process. It is very important for me to write about this process so that other victims of this crime can learn through my experiences with NYS Crime Victims Board and other state compensation programs for crime victims.
My only advice to women that will become domestic violence victims is this: Always report the truth, even if it will put you in danger. Always file a police report, even if you are in fear of retaliation. Make sure you press charges for any domestic violence related crime, even if your abuser threatens you or your family. If you make it out alive, at least you can get compensated from Crime Victims Board without any hassles or appeals.
This advice may seem horrible, or even silly, but my advice stems from a state program that isn't prepared to handle domestic violence claims. Following this advice would almost guarantee an approved claim, although I'm not sure you would be alive to actually be compensated.