What Is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or VICP, is a result of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Two years later, in October of 1988, the VICP was established in order to ensure both stable costs for, and an adequate supply of, vaccines. In addition, the VICP also established and now maintains an efficient and accessible forum for all individuals who are found to have been injured by certain vaccines.
As a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system, the VICP resolves vaccine injury claims through the provision of appropriate compensation to individuals with certain injuries. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Health and Human Services both play important roles in the VICP, but the United States Court of Federal Claims ultimately decides who will be paid.
How Does Filing a Vaccine Injury Claim Work?
For a vaccination personal injury claim to be eligible, the claim needs to be filed within three years after the first symptom of vaccine injury occurred. If the injury resulted in a death, the deadline is no later than two years after the death and no later than four years after the beginning of the first symptom of the injury that ultimately resulted in the death. The claim itself is filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims. From here it is adjudicated by Special Masters from the Court. Representation by a vaccine attorney is highly recommended because the cases are complicated both medically and legally. The procedures for prosecuting a vaccine claim are unique and often confusing to non-lawyers.
What Are the Legal Fees to File a Vaccine Claim?
The Law Office of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, files vaccine cases under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation at no charge to its clients. Our fees are typically paid at the conclusion of the case by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, more commonly known as the “vaccine court” and are derived from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund. That means that our service comes at no risk and no cost to you. Our firm also covers all associated litigation costs, including expert witness fees and travel expenses.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Vaccine Injury Claim?
Although the National Injury Compensation Program was designed to be a non-adversarial and non-litigious system, in reality, vaccine cases filed under the National Injury Compensation Program are often very difficult, hard-fought. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is represented in each case by highly trained an experienced vaccine litigation attorneys. Vaccine cases involve complicated legal, medical, and factual issues. You need an experienced vaccine attorney who knows how to litigate vaccine cases working on your behalf. We highly recommend that you do not attempt to represent yourself in the National Vaccine Compensation Program. Hiring a vaccine attorney to represent you should come at no cost to you because all legal fees are paid by the Court of Federal Claims and are taken out of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund.
How Do I file a Case Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
All cases in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program begin with the filing of a petition with the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. Once the vaccine petition is filed, a Special Master, who is a specialized judge is assigned to the vaccine case and decides the outcome in the event the case proceeds to a hearing (or trial). Cases that do not proceed to a hearing (or trial) are either settled by the parties in advance of the vaccine hearing or conceded by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
How Long Does This Process Take?
Cases brought under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are designed to be quicker than regular civil litigation. With some exceptions, it usually is. You can normally expect to receive a vaccine hearing on whether your vaccine caused the injury within approximately one year. Cases that settle typically conclude within six months. Other parts of the Vaccine Program are extremely cumbersome and may take much longer. Once a case is settled, it usually takes six months for settlement funds to be received.
What Kind of Compensation is Awarded in Vaccine Injury Compensation Claims?
For a vaccine injury, compensation may include pain and suffering a reasonable amount for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs are available. Compensation for pain and suffering is limited to a maximum of $250,000. There is no limit for medical expenses and lost wages.
For vaccine-related death cases you may be paid up to $250,000 as a death benefit for the estate of the deceased; and reasonable lawyers’ fees and other legal costs or legal costs.
What Are the Deadlines for Filing a Claim?
As a general rule, for an injury, claims must be filed within 3 years after the first symptom of the vaccine injury. In the case of a death claim, claims must be filed within 2 years of the death.
When a new vaccine is covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program or when a new vaccine injury/condition is added to the Vaccine Injury Table (Table), claims that do not meet the general filing deadlines must be filed within 2 years from the date the vaccine or injury/condition is added to the Table for injuries or deaths that occurred up to 8 years before the Table change. The Table lists and explains injuries that are presumed to be caused by vaccines. For details about the Table, go to Vaccine Injury Table.