Vaccine Injury Lawsuits And Settlements
Vaccines are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. They have been instrumental in significantly reducing or even eliminating deadly diseases. Despite this, people throughout the United States, including here in Hawaii, have been injured by vaccines. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal government program that was established in 1986 to provide compensation to people who have suffered injuries from certain vaccines.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), since 1988, over 23,933 petitions for compensation have been filed with the VICP – and approximately $4.5 billion has been paid out to people who have suffered vaccine injuries. If you believe that you were injured by a vaccination, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the VICP. At Menzer Law, our skilled vaccine injury lawyers can help you with the process, advocating for you to get the money that you deserve for the injuries that you have suffered.
What Is The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. As part of this legislation, the government established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). VICP is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS reviews petitions (claims) that are filed by people with vaccine injuries and makes payments based on court orders. Claims for vaccine injuries are heard by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
This court makes the final decision about whether a vaccine injury petition should be compensated as well as the amount of compensation. In this process, HHS is represented by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). VICP is a no-fault system, which means that injury victims don’t have to prove that a vaccine manufacturer or health care provider did something wrong in order to recover compensation.
Instead, if you can demonstrate that you were injured by a vaccine covered by VICP, you can get money for your injuries – without having to prove that anyone was negligent. VICP is funded by taxes on vaccines that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for administration to children. Each vaccine is taxed at a rate of 75 cents per disease that it prevents. These excise taxes go into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, which pays both compensations for petitioners as well as attorney fees.
How Can I File A Claim With The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
To be eligible for compensation through VICP, you must have suffered an injury or reaction from a vaccination that is covered by the program. Current covered vaccines include:
- Diphtheria (DTP, DTaP, Tdap, etc.)
- Haemophilus influenza type b polysaccharide conjugate vaccines (Hib)
- Hepatitis A (HAV)
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Seasonal influenza (flu)
- Measles (MMR)
- Mumps (e.g., MMR, MR, M)
- Meningococcal (MCV4, MPSV4, MenB-FHbp, MenB-4C)
- Pertussis (DTP, DTaP, Tdap)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)
- Polio (OPV or IPV)
- Rotavirus (RV)
- Rubella (MMR, MR, R)
- Tetanus (Td)
- Varicella (VAR)
If a vaccine is not on this list, then any injury that results from its administration is not covered by VICP. Parents can file claims for their children who have suffered vaccine injuries. If a person dies from an adverse event related to vaccination, then a legal representative can file a vaccine injury claim on their behalf.
Any petition for compensation through VICP must be filed within three years of the first symptoms of a vaccine injury. However, if a person died from the injury, then their legal representative must file the claim within two years of the death and within four years of the first symptom of the injury that caused their death. This is known as the statute of limitations.
You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to file for compensation through VICP. As long as the vaccine was administered in the United States or its territories and is a covered vaccine, you can file a petition. You (or a dependent) can also seek compensation through VICP if you or they received a covered vaccine while you were a member of the armed forces or U.S. government serving abroad, or if the vaccine manufacturer is located in the U.S. and you returned to the United States sooner than six months after receiving the vaccination.
Vaccine injuries can take any number of forms, depending on the type of vaccine administered. Common vaccine injuries include nerve damage, shoulder injury, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, brain conditions, blood conditions and even death.
To recover through VICP, you will need to prove a causal connection between the vaccination and the injury. Typically, this is demonstrated through objective evidence, such as medical records. In general, the vaccine reaction or condition must be covered by the vaccine injury table, which includes the known illness, injuries and conditions that may result from covered vaccines.
What Compensation Can I Recover From VICP?
The amount of money that you may recover is based on the extent of your vaccine injury and whether you are disabled as a result of the vaccine. If you experience only mild side effects, for example, then you may not recover anything from VICP. However, if you are permanently disabled from an adverse event, then you will likely recover compensation. The vaccine court will consider a number of factors in making a compensation award. This includes your past and future lost earnings, the need for future medical care and your quality of life after a vaccine injury. You may also receive up to $250,000 in compensation for pain and suffering damages. Similarly, the death benefit for a vaccine injury is capped at $250,000. While each case is unique, working with a vaccine injury lawyer can help you maximize your recovery. Your attorney will put together evidence to prove that your injury was related to a covered vaccine and show how your life has been negatively affected by your vaccine injury.
Do I Need An Attorney To File A VICP Petition?
No. You can file a petition with VICP without a lawyer. However, working with an experienced vaccine injury attorney may increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome. The VICP process is complicated and involves multiple steps. Having a lawyer by your side can make filing a claim much easier – and may result in a higher recovery. Because legal fees are typically paid by the VICP and do not come out of your pocket, it is generally a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you file a vaccine injury claim.
Can I File A VICP Petition For A Vaccine Injury That Isn’t On The Vaccine Injury Table?
The Vaccine Injury Table established by VICP covers the complications that most often arise when a child or adult has a reaction to a vaccine. If your vaccine injury fits within the types and time frames listed in the table, it is presumed that the vaccine caused the injury. This does not mean that you cannot recover from an illness, injury or condition that is not listed on the Vaccine Injury Table. You may still be entitled to compensation through VICP if you can prove a link between the vaccine and your injury. A skilled vaccine injury lawyer can help you make a strong case that your injury was caused by a covered vaccine.
Get Help For Vaccine Injuries
If you or someone you love has suffered a vaccine injury, you may be able to file a petition to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and more. This process can be difficult for many victims, particularly as you work to recover from your injuries. Our legal team is here to help. At Menzer Law, we are dedicated to helping people who have suffered from all types of injuries – including those related to vaccines. We don’t charge any upfront fees for vaccine injury cases, covering the costs of filing the petition and retaining medical experts. In most cases, these costs are reimbursed by the VICP Trust through the claim process. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation at our Maui office, call us today at 808.446.7374 or fill out our online contact form.