TRENTON, N.J. – On Tuesday, the governor signed a bill (A3391/S498) sponsored by Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso that amends the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971 to increase eligibility and financial support for victims.
A 2018 investigation by NJ Advance Media found that the state’s Victims of Crime Compensation Office was failing to meet the needs of victims.
“Victims and families who have already suffered will find a fairer system thanks to this law,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “They deserve compensation to help them move forward following a tragedy.”
The bill increases the legal fees benefit to $10,000 from $3,000 so that more victims of crime may receive pro bono legal assistance. In addition, the bill updates the definition of a victim to match existing state law so that a person who suffers personal, physical, or psychological injury or death resulting from a crime may be awarded compensation. The office must make a determination of payment in 90 days and then make a payment in 30 days.
“Whether it’s a parent seeking compensation for her child’s deceased father or a victim seeking payment after a life-altering injury, it’s important they are able to navigate the process in a timely manner so they can make financial plans,” said DiMaso.
The bill also expands the list of crimes for which a victim can receive compensation to include simple assault, disorderly conduct and leaving the scene of an accident, and increases the time limit on filing a claim from three to five years. It also adds the ability of a parent and others with close personal relationships to collect in some cases.