While vaccines generally benefit most people, there are those persons who suffer an adverse reaction to certain vaccines. That adverse reaction can range from something mild that may go away after only a few days to more severe cases that can result in permanent handicaps or even death.
Those injured by vaccines are eligible for compensations. The federal government operates the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”). VICP provides compensation to people that are found to be injured by certain vaccines. The program is funded by the pharmaceutical companies through the sale of vaccines.
Under the law, if you've made a claim for vaccine injury, you must bring that claim in the U.S. Federal Court of Claims, rather than your doctor or against the vaccine’s manufacturer directly. The U.S. Federal Court of Claims is located in Washington, D.C. Vaccine injury cases are defended by federal attorneys working under the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Vaccine injury cases are heard by a Special Master, which will decide if the claimant is entitled to compensation, and if so, how much. Any decision by the Special Master can be appealed to the Court of Federal Claims, and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Anyone person that has been injured following the administration of a vaccine that is covered by VICP is entitled to file a claim with the VICP. Additionally, parents or guardians of children or disabled adults that have been harmed by a vaccine that is covered by VICP may file claim with VICP on behalf of their injured child or injured disabled adult.
Vaccines that are covered by VICP include: vaccines for chicken pox, diphtheria, flu, hemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus, measles-mumps-rubella, pneumococcal conjugate, polio, and rotavirus.
If the Special Master determines that a person was harmed by a vaccine, then the Special Master is authorized to compensate that individual for his or her medical expenses (both past and future), pain and suffering (up to $250,000), and lost earnings or lost earning potential. In addition, if a loved one was killed, the deceased’s personal representative may receive an award of up to $250,000.
However, there are certain time limits that apply in vaccine injury cases. Generally, a person has three years from the onset of symptoms in which to file a claim for a vaccine-related injury. For a vaccine-related death, the victim has two years in which to file a claim.
If you or a loved one has experienced a vaccine injury, do not be discouraged by fears related to the expense involved and/or the distance from Washington, D.C. where the claims are filed. The VICP will compensate vaccine injury victims for their attorney’s fees and costs separately from the compensation award. Furthermore, a trip to Washington, D.C. is usually not required to resolve a vaccine injury dispute, which often settles without a trial.
Christensen & Jensen’s vaccine attorney, David C. Richards, is the only Utah attorney admitted to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to practice vaccine injury cases. Dave has handled and is currently handling a number of vaccine injury cases, and has produced some significant vaccine injury settlements and other results for his clients.