Ky. crime victim fund excludes hit-and-runs - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. crime victim fund excludes hit-and-runs

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By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News     bhaeberle@fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- A state fund established to reimburse crime victims for medical expenses and attorneys' fees excludes some of those involved in hit-and-run accidents.

The Crime Victims Compensation Fund applies to most crime victims, but excludes those involved in automobile accidents unless they can prove the drivers "acted intentionally" or were under the influence.

Kentucky law states the General Assembly created the fund "with intent that aid, care and support be provided by the state, as a matter of grace, for such victims of crime."

But some victims have stepped forward saying that law is discriminatory and needs to change.

Maria Benham says she was left for dead along Ky. 1238 in Meade County.

On Oct. 12, 2008, Benham was riding her motorcycle east towards Louisville when she was struck by a pickup truck pulling trailer. The driver left the scene.

The impact severed her left leg. She now walks with the a prosthetic leg and has difficulty walking down stairs or inclines.

"I did die on the road and then twice more during surgery," said Benham

She was airlifted to University Hospital where she had surgery to amputate her leg above the knee and repair a broken hand. She spent a week in intensive care.

She now feels like she's being left by the side of the road again – this time by the state of Kentucky.

"I was angry. I felt discriminated against because this hit and run is a class d felony in the state of Kentucky."

Maria was denied access to the state's Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

The program that helps reimburse crime victims does not cover victims of automobile accidents.

"Right now I currently have over $20,000 in doctor bills left to pay . And we've to date paid over $40,000 in doctor bills," she said.

Dennis Pastor has been fighting this legal battle longer than Benham. He was struck as he attempted to cross Bardstown Road in April of 2006.

"I was thrown 98 feet . I have a screw in my hip... my pelvis is plated. My left leg is plated below the knee joint," he said.

Both cases remain unsolved.

Current state law says neither Benham or Pastor is eligible for the funds because they can't prove the drivers were drunk or acted intentionally.

Pastor has sued the state. Benham wants to change state law to: "bring some attention to this because it is not fair. "

There have been previous unsuccessful attempts to change state law.

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