Compensation to Vaccine Victims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Have you or your child been injured by a vaccine? Many people do not realize this, but there is legal action that you can take and we can help! Importantly, under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, your legal fees and costs are paid by the Program, so pursuing a legal action is risk free to you!

In the 1980s, as the number of vaccines grew, there was also an increase in vaccine injuries.  The vaccine companies were inundated with law suits, which threatened a vaccine shortage and an increase in vaccine refusal. In order to compensate victims without the backlash and expense of traditional civil litigation, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”), aka “Vaccine Court”.

Under the VICP, if you meet the criteria under the VICP, you can file a petition with the Vaccine Court, which is the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, for monetary compensation. The criteria includes 1) receiving a covered vaccine and 2) suffering an injury; 3) within a certain time period. The monetary compensation available to the victims of these injuries include compensation for pain and suffering and current and future medical expenses. Our firm will also petition the Court to pay fees and costs from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. However, unlike traditional personally injury cases, these fees and expenses are not deducted from your compensation or paid by you out of pocket – they are awarded directly to your attorneys from the vaccine compensation fund.  Thus, you do not have to worry about paying us out of pocket or losing a large percentage of your award to pay your legal fees.

The VICP created a streamlined, five-step adversarial process for vaccine victims to reach a resolution:

  1. File Petition. We will file a petition on your behalf in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  2. Review by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Medical staff will analyze your petition to confirm that it meets the criteria for a claim.
  3. Review by U.S. Department of Justice. Upon receipt of the Health Department’s recommendation, the Department of Justice will submit a report to the including the medical recommendation along with its legal analysis to a court-appointed special master of the Court of Federal Claims.
  4. Special Master Issues the Award. The special master will review the report and hold a a evidentiary hearing where both sides will present their evidence. Upon the completion of a hearing, the special master will determine whether you will receive any compensation and, if so, the amount.
  5. Special Master Issues an Attorney’s Fees and Costs Award. As previously mentioned, compensation to attorney’s is completely separate from the award to our clients. So if, for example, the court awards you $100,000, you keep that entire $100,000, which is unlike a traditional contingency fee arrangement, in which an attorney would typically be entitled to 25% to 40% of the client’s award and reimbursement of costs. After the special master issues the award to our client, we petition the court for our attorney’s fees and costs.

During the pendency of litigation, it is also possible for the parties to reach a settlement. While the award by the Special Master is typically binding, under limited circumstances it may be appealed or rejected. In these situations, you would then have the opportunity to file a claim in civil court, which would instead be filed against the vaccine court and/or the health care provider who issued the vaccine.

If you have any concern about a reaction you or your child has had after receiving a vaccine, contact attorney Deanna Besbekos-LaPage for a free evaluation.

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