Vaccines are generally an effective and safe preventative health measure and have saved countless lives. Many schools even require children get vaccinated to protect our youth from deadly and disabling viruses. But what options do you have if your child suffered an injury or adverse reaction after being vaccinated? This can create a state of fear and uncertainty for most parents. But the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation in the event of certain injuries after specific vaccinations.
Vaccines and Adverse Events
Any vaccine has the potential to cause a reaction, but that’s very rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A severe allergic reaction could occur after any vaccine," but they occur in less than one in a million doses. Mild side effects are more common. For example, according to the CDC, vomiting may occur following the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP) after about one in 50 doses, though less than one in a million children may suffer a severe allergic reaction – anaphylaxis is a severe, whole body reaction that may be compensable under the VICP.
However, in the 1980s a large number of lawsuits were filed against vaccine manufacturers. This resulted in the formation of the VICP, which is part of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. According to The Department of Justice, “The Act established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program as an alternative to traditional products liability and medical malpractice litigation for persons injured by their receipt of one or more standard childhood vaccines.”
Which vaccines does the VICP cover?
The VICP covers the following vaccines:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines (e.g., DTaP, DTP, DT, Td, TT, Tdap, DTP-Hib, or P,);
- Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines (e.g., MMR, MR, M, R);
- Polio vaccines (e.g., OPV or IPV);
- Hepatitis A vaccines (e.g., HAV);
- Hepatitis B vaccines (e.g.,HBV);
- Haemophilus influenza type b polysaccharide conjugate vaccines (e.g., Hib);
- Varicella vaccines (e.g., VZV);
- Rotavirus vaccines (e.g., RV);
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (e.g., PCV);
- Seasonal influenza vaccines;
- Human papillomavirus vaccines (e.g., HPV); and
- Meningococcal vaccines (e.g., MCV4, MPSV4, recombinant).
How does the VICP claims process work? Do I need a lawyer?
The claims process can be complicated and requires applicable records and information to establish a connection between the vaccine and the injury. While you can file a claim on your own, a lawyer can be extremely beneficial during the process. A lawyer protects your rights under the program and ensures compliance with all requirements. And even if you do not receive payment for a vaccine injury, the VICP may still pay for your attorney's fees.
The process begins by filing a petition. It requires a review of medical and other records to determine eligibility for compensation, so send complete and applicable medical records with your claim. You must be able to establish that your child received the vaccine, the symptoms of the injury appeared within the time period specified by the VICP (varies by vaccination and side effect), and that the vaccine caused the injury or a pre-existing injury to worsen.
The VICP requires a medical as well as legal review of each case. It involves the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This is why most people choose to hire legal representation – your attorney makes sure you submit all the paperwork to the appropriate agencies and handles all other aspects of what can be a long and complex process.
What damages may I collect under the VICP?
The amount you collect will greatly depend on the medical treatment and rehabilitation your child requires for the injury, as well as his or her pain and suffering. The VICP may provide compensation for injury-related medical treatment and rehabilitation (no limit, based on needs) as well as for pain and suffering (up to $250,000).
A 'special master' who is appointed by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims will decide the amount of compensation, which you and your attorney may appeal if you disagree. The entire process can take years to resolve in the most complicated cases.
Hiring a Lawyer for Your VICP Claim
Ryan, LLP understands how vaccination complications can seriously affect your child and family. If you need help starting a claim and managing the process, call our Cleveland office today. The consultation is free and confidential: 877-864-9495.