Can You Sue for Vaccine Injury?
Vaccines protect populations from communicable diseases and bacterial infections like diphtheria, measles, and polio. Today, most children receive a range of vaccines during their first years of life to protect them from these potentially fatal diseases. While vaccines are overwhelmingly effective, some patients do experience adverse reactions and some childhood vaccine reactions have caused long-term and permanent damage.
When vaccine injuries happen, injured individuals have the option to secure compensation for their damages through a more streamlined process than filing a personal injury claim or medical malpractice lawsuit. In the 1980s, United States Congress approved the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to address these incidents.
What Is VICP?
VICP allows individuals who sustain injuries from childhood vaccines to obtain compensation for any resulting medical expenses, disability, and other damages. Certain individuals have preexisting health conditions, genetic markers, and other health issues that may interfere with how some vaccines function. It would be unrealistic to expect vaccine manufacturers to account for all of these possible factors in the production of their vaccines; this would reduce the availability of vaccines and drive up prices due to research and development costs.
VICP stabilizes vaccine costs and ensures the availability of crucial childhood vaccines. Since the vast majority of Americans experience few to no adverse reactions to effective vaccines, the VICP program protects both vaccine manufacturers and individuals who unfortunately suffer childhood vaccine injuries.
An individual who wants to make a VICP claim must first check to see if his or her condition qualifies for compensation. Injuries from covered vaccines qualify; the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) maintains an ongoing list of covered vaccines as they arrive to market.
What to Expect When Filing a VICP Claim
It is essential to include the required records and documentation with your VICP claim to ensure you receive compensation for your damages. People who have suffered injuries from childhood vaccines, the parents or guardians of individuals who have sustained vaccine injuries, or estate representative of those who have died from vaccine injuries can file claims for covered vaccine injury compensation.
The claimant will need to prove the injury resulted from a covered vaccine. The HRSA maintains a chart containing covered vaccines, the known injury risks they entail, and the time window in which symptoms appear. If a claimant’s symptom appearance falls within the listed window for a covered vaccine, the HRSA will assume the vaccine is the likely cause of the injury. The vaccine injury table may not contain the vaccine that caused a claimant’s injury, and in such an event he or she may require additional evidence to prove eligibility for VICP compensation.
To qualify for VICP compensation, the vaccine injury in a claim must have lasted for six months or more, caused a hospital stay and/or surgery, or resulted in a death. VICP compensation can include repayment of all nonrefundable medical expenses for treating all vaccine injury-related complications. This can include the cost of rehabilitation or ongoing care. The amount a claimant can receive has no upper limit so long as it is reasonable for the injury in question. VICP also provides pain and suffering compensation for up to $250,000, lost income compensation, and legal costs.
If a claimant files a VICP claim on behalf of a deceased individual, the compensation available includes up to $250,000 in pain and suffering death benefits and reasonable attorneys’ fees and related expenses. The fee for filing a VICP claim is $350, but some claimants may qualify to have this fee waived. Although not required, hiring a seasoned West Virginia medical malpractie attorney to help with the claim process can be incredibly helpful.