Filing a Claim With the Independent Compensation Program
The Independent Compensation Program is something six dioceses in California created together to reimburse survivors of sexual abuse of minors by priests. It is one potential outlet for financial recovery for abuse survivors.
While the registration and claims processes may seem simple, this program might not be the best way to fulfill your needs. If you have not missed your statute of limitations (recently extended to age 40), a civil lawsuit may lead to better compensation. Help from an attorney is the only way to hold a diocese accountable for child sexual abuse and assault.
How to File a Claim With the Independent Compensation Program
First, find out if you qualify to file a claim with the Independent Compensation Program. You must be a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest or another member of the clergy to qualify for compensation. The abuse must have happened from someone within one of the six participating Catholic dioceses in California. The six dioceses comprise more than 80% of the state’s Catholic population.
- Archdioceses of Los Angeles
- Diocese of Fresno
- Diocese of Orange
- Diocese of Sacramento
- Diocese of San Bernardino
- Diocese of San Diego
Most individuals will have the right to register for compensation from the program as long as they have not already accepted settlements for sexual abuse from a diocese. If you believe you are eligible, you may file a claim through the program’s official website. You must provide your full name, contact information and a summary of the allegation, as well as the name of your diocese, the date and time of the event, and the name of the alleged perpetrator.
Will Filing a Claim Cost Money?
It is free to file a claim with the Independent Compensation Program. You do not need to pay a filing fee or pay an attorney to represent you. You may file a claim even if you have missed the traditional statute of limitations to file a civil sexual abuse claim (22 years from the age of majority as of October 13th, 2019).
What Proof Will I Have to Submit to Receive Compensation From the Program?
The program’s administrators must find your claim credible to grant a compensatory award. You may submit as much proof as you have available to help the administrators make a sound and reasonable decision while evaluating your claim. At the very least, you must satisfy the eligibility requirements and provide enough supporting documentation to substantiate your claim.
You must also provide the documents requested on the initial Claim Form. If you previously filed a complaint with the Diocese, it will forward your information to program administrators. You will have an opportunity to submit additional information before the administrators’ final decision.
What Types of Supporting Documentation Will Be Required to Support My Claim?
If you need assistance filling out the Claim Form or providing the requested supporting documents for a claim with the Independent Compensation Program, a lawyer from Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can help. The administrators will require supporting documentation that lends evidence of the date, time, frequency, location and nature of the alleged sexual abuse.
- Copies of complaints to the diocese
- Incident reports
- Police reports
- Investigation documents
- Copies of letters or emails you sent about the incident to the church, friends, family, the police, etc.
- Medical records, if any
- Bills and documents for psychological counseling
These are examples of documentation you may be able to use to support your claim – administrators do not require specific documents. Provide as much evidence as you can to confirm your eligibility for compensation.
Should You File a Claim With the Independent Compensation Program?
The Independent Compensation Program can seem like a simple way to achieve a fast settlement for your clergy sexual abuse in California. It may not, however, be the right choice for you. A civil lawsuit could end in much greater compensation than a settlement from the Independent Compensation Program. One of the attorneys at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can review your case for free and let you know which outlet for recovery might be in your best interests. Call (855) 944-0710 today.