What is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
In 1986, Congress created the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. This no fault-system is now known as the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP"), which provides compensation for people injured by a covered vaccine such as the flu shot, MMR vaccine, tetanus shot, and other vaccines.
These cases, or vaccine injury claims, are processed in the Vaccine Court, a division of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Cases are handled by our vaccine injury lawyers. Attorneys fees are paid through the vaccine program, not by our clients.
The VICP 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 more complex cases, the Petitioner could be required to provide testimony at a hearing.
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.
How the VICP Works
The petitioner’s attorney is paid directly
from the Trust Fund.
The petitioner’s monetary award is separate from the attorney fees, thus the petitioner keeps every penny of his or her compensation. This differs from a civil lawsuit or medical malpractice claim 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 vaccine administration.
My Vaccine Lawyer uses scientific evidence, medical records, medical expert witnesses, and documented correspondences between the client and their healthcare provider to investigate the alleged injury which helps build each case for maximum monetary compensation.
Vaccine manufacturers such as Merck and Sanofi Pasteur pay a $0.75 excise tax on each vaccine dose they make.
As laid out in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the proceeds from the tax are deposited into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. Currently, this fund holds over $4 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 National 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. Payouts for certain vaccine injuries have reached millions.
How Our VICP Lawyers Can Help You
Vaccine injury claims are complicated and we recommend retaining a licensed vaccine 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 side, and in a rare case, petitioners 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.
What are the 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 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: 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
- Extension: Additionally, the Vaccine Injury Court may extend these deadlines in unique cases through equitable tolling.
How to Report a Vaccine Injury
If you suspect you have a vaccine injury, immediately notify your doctor's office. Take these four steps to properly document your injury to use as evidence in your vaccine injury case:
- Call a doctor immediately to receive treatment for your injury and symptoms.
- Explain what happened to your doctor. Be sure to provide the date of vaccination, the vaccine administrator’s information, and the injection site (i.e., left or right arm.)
- Ask your doctor to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System ("VAERS") form or call at 1 (800) 822 - 7967.
- Contact us for help filing a vaccine injury claim in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP")
What is a VAERS form? The VAERS program collects data about adverse reactions to vaccines. The program aims to help the CDC and Food and Drug Administration improve vaccine safety measures in the future. Filing a VAERS report is separate from filing a vaccine injury claim for compensation. But the VAERs report can offer additional evidence in your vaccine case, so it's an important step.