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The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP") - Vaccine Injury Claims for Vaccines

In 1986, Congress created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP"), which provides compensation for people injured by vaccines such as the flu shot, tetanus shot, and other vaccines. These case, or vaccine injury claims, are processed in the Vaccine Court, a division of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Cases are handled by our vaccine injury lawyers. Our fees at My Vaccine Lawyer are paid through the program, not by our clients. 

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is unlike traditional civil lawsuits. Although it is referred to as the Vaccine Court, the system is more comparable to applying for benefits rather than suing a negligent party. The injured party (“petitioner”) does not testify at a deposition or answer interrogatories. Rather, the petitioner shares details of his or her vaccine injury through a written affidavit. In some cases, the petitioner may testify at a hearing.




Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Payouts

Vaccine Injury Compensation, Vaccine Injury Claims for Vaccines | My Vaccine LawyerVaccine manufacturers such as Merck and Sanofi Pasteur pay a $0.75 tax on each vaccine dose they make. The proceeds from the tax are deposited into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. Currently, this fund holds over $3 billion, set aside specifically to compensate those injured by a vaccine.

Unlike a civil lawsuit wherein the plaintiff/petitioner is seeking compensation from a defendant, claims through the Vaccine Injury Compensation program are paid from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund.

By filing a claim through the VICP, the injured party is petitioning the court for compensation from the Trust Fund. Petitioners can recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and reimbursement of past and future medical expenses.



The petitioner’s attorney is paid directly from the Trust Fund as well. The petitioner’s monetary award is separate from the attorney’s fees, thus the petitioner keeps every penny of his or her compensation. This differs from a civil lawsuit where the attorney takes a percentage of the compensation. Our team of vaccine injury attorneys at My Vaccine Lawyer represent people all over the United States for injuries and adverse reactions caused by vaccines. 


Vaccine injury compensation program filing requirements

There are a few severity requirements before a person can file a petition, such as when the effects of their injury:

  • persisted for six months or more from their vaccination date; or
  • resulted in surgery or a stint of inpatient hospitalization; or
  • resulted in death.


In addition, the VICP has strict guidelines on filing deadlines, requiring a petition to be filed within the timeframes below:

  • For an injury: a petition must be filed within three (3) years of the injured person's first symptom or onset of injury;
  • Death: a petition must be filed within two (2) years of the injured person's death and within four (4) years of their first symptom or onset of injury;
  • Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table: a petition must be filed within two (2) years from the date of the Table change for injuries, or eight (8) years from the date of the Table change for deaths
  • Additionally, the Vaccine Injury Court may extend these deadlines in unique cases through equitable tolling.


How to file a vaccine injury claim?

Vaccine Injury Claims are complicated and we would always recommend retaining a lawyer to file your claim. Under the rules of the program, your lawyer is also paid through the program funds, meaning you do not pay any attorneys fees. The general process for filing a claim is as follows:

  • An individual files a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) medical staff reviews the petition, determines if it meets the medical criteria for compensation and makes a preliminary recommendation.
  • The parties may begin settlement discussions at this time, or HHS could choose to defend the case if they believe it does not qualify for compensation.
  • If HHS chooses to defend the case, sometimes the parties will retain medical experts to support their case, and rarely, cases can go to a hearing in front of a Special Master.
  • If the case is decided in favor of the petitioner, the Court orders the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award compensation.

The special master's decision may be appealed and petitioners who reject the decision of the court (or withdraw their petitions within certain timelines) may file a claim in civil court against the vaccine company and/or the health care provider who administered the vaccine.


Where to report a vaccine injury

You should first report your injury to your doctor so that you may receive the proper treatment. Additionally, you may also report your injury to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System which is a national vaccine safety surveillance program run by CDC and the Food and Drug Administration. Then you should immediately contact a vaccine injury lawyer so your rights may be protected in the case of a vaccine injury.




Page last reviewed and updated: November 24, 2020

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