Bryan Cohen Jul. 2, 2013, 6:44pm

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley praised the Massachusetts Senate and House on Monday for passing important changes to the state's victim compensation legislation as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Coakley advocated for the changes, which will increase individual payments for burial and funeral costs and create a new catastrophic injury category for victims suffering lifelong disability. The legislation broadens the assistance options available to victims without needing additional funding or raising the current cap on victim compensation.

Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) was the sponsor of the amendment.

"These critical improvements to our victim compensation laws will ensure that victims receive needed services," Coakley said. "I want to thank Senator Flanagan for her sponsorship of this important legislation, as well as the House and Senate for their leadership and swift action so these changes can take place immediately."

The Victims of Violent Crimes Compensation statute gives Coakley's office the authority to provide eligible victims of violent crimes and their families with financial aid for particular expenses resulting from a crime. The statute increases the funeral and burial expenses cap from $6,500 to $8,000, establishes a catastrophic injury amount of $50,000 for victims suffering lifelong disability injuries resulting from a violent crime and provides temporary debt collection protection for eligible claimants.

Coakley's office and the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance have responded to the Boston Marathon attack by providing information about the services, information and financial support available to victims, including compensation available through the Victim Compensation Fund. Coakley's office administers the fund, which helps eligible victims and their families with expenses not covered by other funding sources.

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