How the Program Works

How the Program Works….

The Vaccine Petition

Your claim is initiated by filing a petition with the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Once the petition is filed, a Special Master is assigned to the case. A Special Master is a specialized judge that handles only vaccine injury claims. The Special Master decides the outcome of the case instead of a jury.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acts as the opposing side in these cases. HHS reviews the vaccine injury petition and decides whether to dispute your claim that the vaccine caused the injury or to concede that the vaccine was responsible.

Unlike other law firms, our Vaccine Injury Attorneys we handle no other types of Litigation.  This is not a Lawsuit, its a claims process that is seeking to help you and your family, not hurt others.  Vaccine Injury Law is all we do.

There are generally two phases to such a Petition: Causation and Damages. In the causation phase, we focus on the collection and submission of all major medical records. It is important to be able to demonstrate, through documented medical records, how the particular vaccine lead to the injury. We then secure medical experts such as board-certified neurologists to review the records and provide a written opinion as to causation. If the Secretary challenges causation, we expect experts from their side to write a written opinion and testify if necessary.

The Special Master takes into account all the evidence and then makes a decision about causation. If the Special Master agrees that the vaccine caused the injuries, the case proceeds to the 2nd phase: Damages. The amount of damages awarded are critical to ensuring that the injured victim has the financial resources to cover additional medical treatment and present and future loss of earnings.

If HHS does not concede the causation and damages issues of your case, your case could go to a hearing. Generally the Court will try to accommodate you by having the hearing at a federal courthouse near your residence. The hearing will often be held over the phone. Following the hearing, the Special Master will decide your case.

Who may file a vaccine injury claim?

  • You may file a claim if you received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that you have been injured by this vaccine.
  • You may also file a claim if you are a parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person was injured by this vaccine.
  • You may file a claim if you are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person’s death resulted from the vaccine injury.
  • You may file a claim if you are not a United States citizen.

In addition, to be eligible to file a claim, the effects of the person’s injury must have: 1) lasted for more than 6 months after the vaccine was given; or 2) resulted in a hospital stay and surgery; or 3) resulted in death.

 

What must be proved in order to be compensated?

You must prove that:

  • the injured person received a vaccine listed on the Table; and
  • the first symptom of the injury/condition on the Table occurred within the time period listed on the Table; or
  • the vaccine caused the injury; or
  • the vaccine caused an existing illness to get worse (significantly aggravated). In addition, the Court must determine

 

Do I need an attorney?

We highly recommend that you hire a vaccine injury attorney and not attempt to represent yourself in the National Vaccine Compensation Program. Hiring a vaccine attorney comes at no cost to you because the Court pays for all legal fees. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is often a very difficult, contentious and complex process often involving complicated legal, medical, and factual issues. You need an attorney who knows how to handle vaccine cases.

 

What type of compensation is awarded?

For a  injury, you may be paid:

  • a reasonable amount for past and future nonreimbursable medical, custodial care, and rehabilitation costs, and related expenses (There is no limit on the amount a person with an injury may be paid for these types of expenses. Payments are based on your vaccine injury needs.);
  • up to $250,000 for actual and projected pain and suffering;
  • lost earnings; and/or
  • reasonable lawyers’ fees and other legal costs or legal costs, not fees, of petitioners representing themselves, if your claim was filed on a reasonable basis and in good faith.

For a death, the following may be paid:

  • up to $250,000 as a death benefit for the estate of the deceased; and
  • reasonable lawyers’ fees and other legal costs or legal costs, not fees, of petitioners representing themselves, if your claim was filed on a reasonable basis and in good faith.

 

How long do I have to file my vaccine injury claim?

The statute of limitations (SOL) requires that your claim must be filed within three (3) years from the date of onset of symptoms. However, to be safe, our firm recommends that you file no later than three (3) years from the date of your vaccination. In the event of a vaccine-related death, a claim must be filed no later than two (2) years from the date of death.

 

How long does the entire vaccine injury process take?

This process is designed to be quicker than civil litigation. With some exceptions, it usually is. A hearing on whether the vaccine caused the injury often occurs within a year. Cases that settle can conclude in as little as six months. Other parts of the Vaccine Program are extremely cumbersome and take a long time. For example, once a vaccine injury case is settled, it usually takes six months or more to receive the settlement funds.