As part of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or VICP. While vaccines are a critical part of public health and most of the time vaccines are safe, the purpose of the VICP was to provide a streamlined process for people injured by vaccines.
Vaccine injury claims work differently than a typical injury claim. Vaccine injury claims are filed with a petition to The Vaccine Court, a division of the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Once you have filed your petition, a "Special Master" is assigned to your case. This is a specialized judge who only works with vaccine injury claims. He or she will decide the outcome of your case instead of a jury. Like a typical injury claim, many individuals also choose to work with a vaccine injury attorney to navigate the process and advocate their best interest.
Filing a Vaccine Injury Claim
If you've been injured by a vaccine, notify your doctor, nurse, or health department, it's important to file a report with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form. Alternatively, you can call VAERS yourself at 1-800-822-7967. Then, review the list of vaccines and types of injuries covered under the VICP. Your vaccine injury attorney will also advise that you should also start to gather your medical records, which are required to file the petition.
Your petition for benefits will be filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS acts as the defendant in the Vaccine Court for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The claims are defendant by the U.S. Department of Justice. HHS will review all claims and along with their legal representatives in the U.S. Department of Justice, will present an opinion if your claim is entitled to benefits. The U.S. Department of Justice will then file a report, which includes their recommendation and legal analysis. The report is submitted to the Court and the Special Master. The Special Master has the final say, even if HHS denies your claim.
The Special Master then decides whether you will be compensated, including how much and what type. There are three categories the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program provides for compensation -- out-of-pocket medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost or future earnings. This is often done after a hearing where both parties present their evidence. Should your case be approved for compensation, the Court then orders the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award you your money. Even if your petition is dismissed, as long as certain requirements are met, the Court may order the Department of Health and Human Services to make payment.
If need be, you may appeal the Special Master's decision and file a claim in civil court. This claim will then be against the vaccine company and/or the health care provider who administered you or your child the vaccine.
How Long Does The Process Take?
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was designed to be a quick and streamlined process. In most cases, it is, though there are some exceptions. Your hearing to decide whether the vaccine you received caused your injury usually occurs within a year. Some cases could take longer if a hearing is required.
Brandon J Broderick, Vaccine Injury Claims Attorney
If you or your child is a victim of a vaccine injury, Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, can help. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Get in touch today or call us at 201-514-6351.