What is vaccine injury compensation? Paul Brazil explains how it works.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP") is a program that was developed after the federal government's passing of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 to compensate people that have reactions and injuries caused by vaccinations.
What is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP") is a program that was developed after the federal government's passing of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 to compensate people that have reactions and injuries caused by vaccinations. It is a no-fault alternative program, meaning you do not have to prove negligence against the vaccine manufacturer as you would with a traditional civil lawsuit for a vaccine related injury. You only need to demonstrate that the vaccination caused your injury to be entitled to compensation.
The program is funded by a tax on vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine. Each vaccine dose manufactured by a pharmaceutical company is subjected to a 75 cent excise tax. That money is placed into a trust fund which is used to run the program and pay vaccine injury victims who have suffered an adverse event such a shoulder injury. As of now, there is over 4 billion dollars in the trust fund. Any individual, of any age, who received a covered vaccine and believes he or she has an alleged injury, can file a petition for compensation in vaccine court. Parents, legal guardians and legal representatives can file on behalf of children, disabled adults, and individuals who are deceased.
What are vaccine injury compensation program statistics?
The Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) records data from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Specifically, you can find the number of:
- vaccine injury petitions filed;
- adjudications compensated and dismissed;
- awards paid by type and amount;
- claims by vaccine; and
- adjudication categories by vaccine.
What are vaccine injury compensation program requirements?
A person may file a petition in the Vaccine Injury Court if they meet one or more of the following eligibility criteria:
- the injury is believed to be from a vaccine (causal link) that is listed under the Vaccine Injury Table, or
- you are the legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who was injured by a covered vaccine, or
- are legally representing the estate of a deceased person who suffered an injury or adverse reaction from a covered vaccine.
Additionally, anyone may file a petition regardless if they are a U.S. citizen or not, as long as the vaccine was administered in the United States or its territories and is listed under the Vaccine Injury Table, or:
- the injured person received a covered vaccination while serving abroad under the Armed Forces, as a United States government employee, or was a dependent under one of the aforementioned; or
- the covered vaccine's manufacturer was located in the U.S. and the injured person returned back to the United States or its territories before six (6) months after receiving the vaccination.
Hear Cheryl's Vaccine Injury Story
Cheryl suffered SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration) following a flu shot. Her vaccine injury claim was filed in the VICP by vaccine lawyer Max Muller where she obtained a large cash settlement for her pain and suffering, lost wages and out of pocket medical expenses.
Types of Vaccine Injury Payouts
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Reimbursement of medical expenses (past and future)
Following litigation with the Department of Health and Human Services, every claim that is compensated in the VICP typically includes some measure of pain and suffering. Lost wages and out of pocket medical expenses will be compensated if they can be demonstrated in front of the Special Master through documentary evidence such medical records, testimonials from the clients' healthcare providers, case reports from medical experts, and affidavits from expert witnesses.
Pain and suffering in the VICP is capped at $250,000.00. In cases where the person died of their vaccine injury, the death benefit is $250,000.00. It is difficult to put a monetary value on pain and suffering. In practice, the amount of pain and suffering awarded will be based on various factors, including:
- Type of treatment
- Duration of treatment
- Severity of symptoms
- Duration of symptoms
- Effects on daily living
- Permanency of symptoms
- Emotional distress imposed by injury
Pain and suffering awards are not taxable. In addition, My Vaccine Lawyer retains no portion of the award nor any deduction for attorney fees. The award is sent to the petitioner in its entirety.
Lost Wages Due to a Vaccine Injury
If the vaccine injury, or treatment of the injury, caused the petitioner to miss work and lose income, then the petitioner can seek lost wages. In cases where the petitioner receives the vaccination at work and receives workers’ compensation benefits, then the petitioner can seek the difference between the workers’ compensation benefit and the actual lost wages (usually workers’ compensation or disability benefits will pay around 2/3 of the actual lost wages). The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund will pay the lost wages after deduction of the usual taxes.
Reimbursement of Vaccine Injury Medical Expenses
In cases where the petitioner incurred costs for treatment of the vaccine injury, the VICP will reimburse the costs. However, the VICP will only reimburse the portion actually paid, or due to be paid, by the petitioner. The VICP does not reimburse any portion paid by insurance companies. If Medicaid has paid for any portion of treatment, the VICP will reimburse those expenses directly to Medicaid. It is crucial that petitioners advise their vaccine injury attorney if they believe Medicaid may have paid for any treatment. Otherwise, Medicaid may seek reimbursement from the petitioner’s share of the award.
Petitioners can also recover damages for medical expenses they will incur in the future. Typically, this type of recovery is reserved for more catastrophic injuries where home nursing or home modifications are involved. For future medical expenses, we typically retain a life care planner or other expert to provide estimates of expenses the petitioner will incur in the future as a result of the vaccine injury.