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National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

People injured by certain vaccines can petition the federal government for compensation. Injured people may file petitions on their own or with the help of a lawyer. So far, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid about $106.5 million for 283 claims in 2018, according to a March 30, 2018 report.

Have you suffered a vaccine-related injury?

If you or a loved one developed a shoulder injury or an autoimmune disorder after a vaccination, you may be eligible for compensation.

Vaccination syringe and pills
Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Facts
  1. Number of Petitions 19,277 (October 1988 through March 30, 2018)
  2. Total Payouts $3.8 Billion (October 1988 through March 30, 2018)
  3. Injuries Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), anaphylaxis (allergic reaction), vasovagal syncope (fainting), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), encephalopathy (brain inflammation)

* Update: As of March 30, 2018, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had paid $106.5 million for 283 claims since the beginning of the 2018 fiscal year. Drugwatch’s legal partners are accepting vaccine injury cases.

The government started the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to compensate people who suffer vaccine injuries or death.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 protects vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits. But, people injured by vaccines may file a petition with the VICP for compensation. They can file on their own or with the help of a vaccine injury lawyer.

Unlike typical injury lawsuits against drug manufacturers, people who use attorneys to file a VICP claim do not pay attorney’s fees. The VICP pays the petitioner’s attorney’s fee.

According to a March 30, 2018 report, there have been about 19,277 petitions since the VICP began in 1988. The program has paid out about $3.8 billion in vaccine compensation and settlements.

How VICP Works

Under the VICP, people who claim vaccine injury must prove a vaccine caused their injuries. In some cases, even if people cannot prove a vaccine injured them, they may receive a vaccine injury settlement from VICP.

VICP payouts can occur in three ways:
Concession
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks at evidence and finds the vaccine caused the injury. The petitioner is entitled to compensation.
Court Decision
A special master of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims makes a decision to compensate or not compensate the petitioner based on evidence presented by both sides.
Settlement
The government and petitioner negotiate a payment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not admit the vaccine caused injury.

Vaccines Covered by VICP

VICP currently covers 17 vaccines. The following table shows the covered illnesses, disabilities, injuries, conditions and deaths for each vaccine. It also shows the time period in which they are to occur for a person to receive compensation.

Filing a Petition

To receive compensation from VICP, you must file a legal document known as a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. A petition is usually a few pages long. It lays out the facts of the claim.

According to the vaccine rules of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the petition must include:
  • The name of the person who received the vaccine
  • The date and place of the vaccination
  • A specific description of the injury alleged
  • Whether the injury claimed is on the Vaccine Injury Table

Who Can File a VICP Petition?

Any person who received a VICP-covered vaccine and believes he or she was injured as a result can file a petition, regardless of age.

Parents, legal guardians and legal representatives can file a petition on behalf of infants, children, disabled adults and deceased persons.

VICP Petition Steps

  • Step 1
    A person files a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
  • Step 2
    Medical staff with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviews the petition, determines if it meets the medical criteria for compensation and makes a preliminary recommendation.
  • Step 3
    The U.S. Justice Department generates and submits a report to the court that includes the medical recommendation and legal analysis.
  • Step 4
    A court-appointed special master receives the report. He or she decides whether to compensate the petitioner. The court typically holds a hearing in which both parties can present evidence. If the special master awards compensation, he or she determines the amount and type.
  • Step 5
    The court orders the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to pay the compensation. The court may order the department to pay attorneys' fees and costs even if it dismisses the petition as long as the claim meets certain requirements.

Do You Need a Lawyer to File a VICP Petition?

You can prepare the petition yourself or hire a lawyer to prepare and file one for you. Most people hire a lawyer because this is a legal process.

By law, lawyers who help people file VICP claims cannot charge the petitioner fees. The VICP pays lawyers directly if they meet basic requirements.

Suffering from a vaccine-related injury? Find out if you're eligible for compensation. Get a Free Case Review

VICP Injury Severity Requirements

The VICP has injury severity requirements for filing a petition. The injury must last for more than six months and result in inpatient hospitalization, surgical intervention or death.

Officials changed some of the requirements in 2017 to make it easier to obtain compensation in two kinds of cases.

One of those involves people who develop Guillian-Barre syndrome (GBS) between three and 42 days after receiving a flu vaccine. In this case, VICP assumes the vaccine caused GBS. This saves the claimant from having to provide proof of causation.

The other change relates to people who suffer SIRVA. SIRVA stands for Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. The program will automatically assume vaccination caused SIRVA if it happened within 48 hours of any covered vaccine.

VICP Statute of Limitations: Timeframe for Filing Claims

In general, the statute of limitations to file a claim is three years from the date a person first has symptoms of an injury. For death, it is two years from the date of death.

Requirement changes made in 2017 relaxed the statute of limitations for some people who may not have been able to file previously.

People may file petitions for injuries and vaccinations covered under the VICP if the injury occurred after March 21, 2009.

These petitions must be filed before March 21, 2019, to qualify for the temporarily relaxed deadlines.

This applies to petitions HHS previously rejected or were not filed. If petitions were filed and formally decided under the program, they cannot be filed again.

Vaccine Settlements and Payouts

A payout occurs after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the vaccine court determine a vaccine caused an injury. But petitioners can still receive a vaccine injury settlement if the federal agency and the court do not find a vaccine caused the injury.

More than 80 percent of all compensation the VICP awards is negotiated settlements. In settlements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not admit the vaccine caused injury.

The person allegedly injured by a vaccine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may decide to settle in order to minimize loss, time and the expense of litigating a case. A settlement may also come out of a desire to resolve a petition quickly.

As of March 30, 2018, VICP has paid about $106.5 million for 283 claims in fiscal year 2018. In 2017, it paid more than $252 million for 706 claims.

Examples of VICP Vaccine Settlements and Payouts:
Vaccine Injury Amount Case Number
HPV Neuromyelitis Optica (autoimmune disease) $11.5 million 12-630V
Influenza Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) $800,000 13-1018V
Flu Guillain-Barre Syndrome $683,309 15-22V
Flu SIRVA $100,000 16-0851V
Influenza Transverse Myelitis $100,000 16-029V
Hepatitis B Demyelinating Polyneuropathy $300,000 13-1018V

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

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4 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. (2018, March). Vaccine Injury Compensation Data. Retrieved from https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/data/index.html
  2. U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. (n.d.) Vaccine Injury Table. Retrieved from https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/vaccinecompensation/vaccineinjurytable.pdf
  3. U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration.(2018, March 30). Data & Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hrsa/vaccine-compensation/monthly-website-stats-03-30-18.pdf
  4. Carney, D. J. (2017, November 9). New Rule Change Makes Vaccine Court More Petitioner Friendly. Retrieved from https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/sites/thelegalintelligencer/2017/11/09/new-rule-change-makes-vaccine-court-more-petitioner-friendly/
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