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CA victims of Las Vegas shootings could receive funds from 2 states

A memorial for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting is seen along the Las Vegas strip on Oct. 4, 2017.
A memorial for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting is seen along the Las Vegas strip on Oct. 4, 2017.
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More than 1,400 Californians have applied for financial help from state victim's compensation programs following last month's mass shooting in Las Vegas.  

Thousands of Californians who survived the attack, and the families of those killed, are eligible for financial help from their state fund, as well as the one in Nevada, where the attack took place.  

Because so many Californians could potentially get help from both funds, the two states have joined forces to create a single application process. The states are also sharing costs. Nevada, for example, might pay the hospital stays of a victim while California would cover lost income incurred back home. 

It is rare that the states had to work so closely on so many applications. But Californians made up an estimated 65 percent of the 22,000 people who bought tickets to the Route 91 Harvest music festival and more than half of the 59 people killed were from California.

"We know there are a lot of Californians that were traumatized by this event and could perhaps use our help," said Julie Nauman, executive officer of the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Survivors and families of the deceased can apply for up to $35,000 from Nevada and a maximum of $70,000 from California, which has the country's oldest and largest victim's compensation fund. 

Friends and family of shooting victims have also set up individual fundraising pages on platforms like GoFundMe.com. 

More assistance could be coming to victims of the Las Vegas shootings in the form of a fund set up by Clark County, Nevada, officials. The Las Vegas Victim's Fund already has upwards of $15 million from donors from around the country.

Camille Biros, the Washington, D.C-based lawyer serving as a consultant to the county, said a protocol for allocating the funds should be finalized in early December, and that money should be distributed around February or March. 

Biros said administrators of the county fund will reach out to the family of the deceased and the survivors that it knows of.  The state compensation funds rely on individuals to come forward themselves.

About 90 percent of the applicants to date are survivors seeking help with mental health counseling, medical bills and lost income. Another 4 percent or so are relatives of the deceased requesting assistance with costs such as funeral fees. 

Last year, California's fund paid out $53 million in assistance to more than 45,000 applicants victimized in violent crimes. Nauman is anticipating many more applicants this year because of the Las Vegas shootings She said the U.S. Department of Justice can provide funding to states for unforeseen expenses, as it did for the California fund after the San Bernardino shootings in 2015.  

Officials do not make direct payments to victims, with the exception of covering lost income. Rather, service providers like doctors and counselors send their bills to the fund.

"We want (victims) to have that time with their family and loved ones and we’ll take care of the bill," Nauman said. 

California's compensation fund is paid for through fines and penalties imposed on law offenders, and is available to victims of all violent crime, regardless of whether the perpetrator was ever identified or prosecuted.

For more information on applying for victim compensation funds from California and Nevada, go to www.victims ca.gov or by calling 1-800-777-9229. 

Nauman said the people generally have three years to apply for assistance from the state, but officials say there may be some extenuating circumstances that prevent individuals from recognizing they need help, and seeking it. 

"We recognize everybody is in a different place," Nauman said. "As I often say, no one expects to be a victim of a violent crime."