Understanding the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

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The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 originally created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system. The VICP is administered by the Division of Injury Compensation Programs, Healthcare Systems Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is venued in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. The VICP is entirely separate from the traditional tort lawsuit claims that one might expect with personal injury. The VICP was created because we recognize as a country that vaccines are good for the common benefit, however, in rare instances some vaccines can cause certain side effects. In order to stabilize vaccine costs and prevent vaccine shortages related to lawsuits from these rare occurrences, the legislature created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This program established a Compensation Trust Fund that is funded by a $.75 tax on each vaccine that is recommended by the CDC. 

When one develops side effects after the administration of one of these vaccines, one submits a petition to the Department of Health and Human Services Vaccine Court, at which point professionals called “Special Masters” within the VICP determine if the petitioner has met his or her burden of proof to show that the vaccine at issue caused the Petitioner’s injury. The petitioner must show the Special Master that: (1) a medical theory causally connecting the vaccination and the injury exists, (2) a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the vaccination was the reason for the injury; and (3) make a showing of a proximate temporal relationship between vaccination and injury.

If the petitioner can show these three things, then the Special Master will determine how much of an award he or she should receive from this Compensation Trust Fund to compensate their injury and medical expenses. These funds do not come from any drug manufacturers and the drug manufacturers are not defendants in any kind of lawsuit.   

The Department of Health and Human Services keeps and updates a Vaccine Injury Table which outlines known side effects of certain covered vaccines and the time periods in which symptoms typically start to present. This table is used for the evaluation of petitions to Vaccine Court for payment from the Vaccine Compensation Trust Fund.

We at Locks Law Firm take pride in being one of the few law firms in the country that handles Vaccine Compensation Claims. If you think that you or someone you know might have had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, first contact your doctor. The next step may be to speak with one of the experienced Attorneys at Locks Law Firm about a possible petition to the VICP.

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