Vaccines play a vital role in the health sector. In cooperation with research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and international organizations, governments roll out vaccines to improve healthcare. Vaccines prevent you from suffering from a given illness by activating antibodies and providing immunity. In most cases, these vaccines originate from the disease itself.
On the other hand, patients’ bodies are different, and they may react differently to a particular vaccine. For instance, a specific vaccine can be effective and safe for some people but cause adverse side effects to others. This begs the question: can you seek compensation if you suffer injury from a vaccine? The answer is yes.
However, seeking compensation entails filing a petition or claim and following the correct procedure. This article provides essential insights into the vaccine injury claims process. Read for further information.
Be Familiar With The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Created in 1988, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) aims to compensate people injured by certain vaccines. The vaccines covered by this program include the following:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
- Hepatitis A and B
- Measles, mumps, rubella
- Human papillomavirus
For instance, there are different reactions from a tetanus shot, but most side effects are mild, such as low-grade fever or soreness at the injection site. However, if you experience a severe side effect lasting more than six months, you may be eligible for compensation under the VICP.
Although the VICP covers most vaccines routinely administered in the United States, it does not extend to those given during outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 vaccine or boosters. If you suffered injury or a loved one died due to this particular vaccine or booster shot, you may be entitled to compensation, not from the VICP but from the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
Report Your Vaccine-Related Injury To VAERS
It’s critical to seek immediate medical attention for your vaccine injury to avoid possible complications. Afterward, report your vaccine-related injury to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This is a government program that tracks injuries caused by vaccines.
Reporting your vaccine injury may be done online. Go to the VAERS website and fill out the online form.
However, you need to be ready with the details of your vaccine injury. For instance, it would be helpful to list down all the symptoms you experienced after administering the vaccine, including the onset, frequency, and intensity of such symptoms.
Gather Your Medical Records
Filing a compensation claim necessitates the submission of medical records and other documents, which may include the following:
- Prenatal and birth records
- Pre-vaccination medical records
- Vaccination record
- Post-injury hospital treatment records
- Post-injury outpatient records
- VAERS form
- Death records, if applicable
To make the claims process quicker, start gathering supporting documentation.
File A Vaccine Injury Claim
It’s important to note that any of the following circumstances must be present to be eligible to file a claim:
- The effects of the vaccine injury should have lasted more than six months after the vaccine was administered.
- The effects of the vaccine should have resulted in hospital confinement and surgery.
- The vaccine caused a person’s death.
Vaccine injury claims must be filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. Thus, a vaccine injury lawsuit differs from a typical personal injury case that may be filed in a local court.
Below is a summary of the process for filing a claim:
- The petitioner or his lawyer will submit one original and two copies of the claim accompanied by medical records and other relevant documents and filing fee to the Court.
- The petitioner or his lawyer will submit one copy of the claim along with the medical records and other documents to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- The Court will send a copy of the claim and supporting documentation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its legal review.
- The HHS will review the medical information of the claim and submit its review to the DOJ lawyer, who will represent the HHS Secretary.
- A report consolidating the reviews of the DOJ and HHS will be sent to the Court and the petitioner or his lawyer.
- The DOJ, the petitioner, or his lawyer will undertake legal action to resolve the claim.
- A lawyer appointed by the Court will decide if the petitioner is entitled to compensation and the settlement amount.
Hire Legal Services
You don’t need a lawyer to file a vaccine injury claim. However, hiring one is highly advisable as the claims process is often lengthy and requires a lot of paperwork. Furthermore, the Rules of the Court must be stringently followed. Hence, most petitioners avail themselves of the services of a legal professional.
Don’t just hire any personal injury lawyer because only a lawyer admitted to the Vaccine Court may handle a claim for compensation due to vaccine injury. An experienced vaccine injury lawyer will be able to compute your present and future monetary and non-monetary losses and help you negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement.
The statute of limitations, which refers to the deadline for filing a lawsuit, applies to vaccine injury claims. You need to file your claim within three years from when you first experienced the symptoms. On the other hand, if the vaccine injury resulted in the death of your loved one, you must file within two years from the date of death.
Therefore, it’s prudent not to delay as you’ll be barred from filing a claim beyond this timeline, and there will be no way to seek compensation for the injury you suffered due to the vaccine.
As you can see in the discussion above, the vaccine injury claims process is relatively straightforward. Like a personal injury lawsuit, you need to prove that your injury was caused by the vaccine you received. But unlike personal injury claims, vaccine injury claims are filed solely in the Court of Federal Claims.
You may consider enlisting the services of a vaccine injury lawyer to handle your claim. They’re well-acquainted with the legal proceedings and requirements and can help you seek reasonable compensation for your sustained vaccine-related injury.