Vaccine injury claims are unlike other medical claims and require a special understanding of the unique rules to follow if you or a family member believes that you have suffered an injury caused by a vaccination. In 1988, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was established to compensate patients if they experienced certain injuries within a period of time after a vaccination, and if the results from the injury last in excess of six (6) months. Congress passed this Act to ensure that there would be an adequate supply of vaccines and to keep the cost stable. It was also intended to prevent lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and the doctors that administer the vaccines. An injured party can’t sue a doctor or drug company as long as a claim is being pursued through the Vaccine Court.
To begin with, it is important that you consult with an attorney that handles these types of claims because you need to be licensed in the United States Court of Federal Claims to represent the injured party. I have been licensed before this Court since 1990 and have handled a number of claims, including injuries and deaths caused by an adverse reaction to a vaccine.
Honestly, not that many attorneys in Ohio handle these types of claims as the payment for the time and effort is often limited. I, on the other hand, have found that when a patient needs a vaccine (and we know that everyone gets vaccines) and a small percentage of patients suffer a reaction, they need the assistance of an attorney to pursue their claim and it is rewarding making a difference for someone that others turn their backs on. (See here.) As long as I find a good faith basis for a claim, the injured party does not pay me a cent as I have to apply for my attorney fees and costs to the Court and have my fees approved. Therefore, if you know of someone that has had a vaccination and they believe that they have suffered an adverse reaction to the shot, they should consult with an attorney to find out if they might be entitled to compensation. The information needed to file a claim for compensation can be exhaustive and the more that is done upfront, the better the chances are of being successful.
Make no mistake, the process is involved and requires expertise in determining which vaccine was administered and whether the injury claimed is one that the scientific evidence supports as being caused by the shot. Such vaccines include tetanus toxoid; pertussis; measles, mumps and rubella; polio virus; Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Haemophilus influenza type b; Varicella; rotavirus; pneumococcal conjugate; seasonal influenza; meningococcal and human papillomavirus.
Vaccine Injury Claims
The time to bring a claim for injury is 3 (three) years after the first symptoms; or 2 (two) years if the vaccine caused a death. The rules on the statute of limitations are entirely different than conventional litigation. What needs to be filed with the Court and how to file is entirely different than conventional litigation. Certain vaccines and the onset of the injury are covered by a “Table” and causal relationship is presumed. Others that are not “Table Injuries,” must be proved by scientific evidence. These cases are heard by Special Masters that decide whether there is an entitlement to compensation; and, if not, a formal hearing will take place. If entitlement is determined, then the second phase is the damage phase. Each aspect requires a clear understanding of the process.
Shoulder injuries related to vaccinations or SIRVA are being filed more and more frequently. I will write more about this type of claim in later blogs, but if you believe that you suffered an injury due to trauma from a needle that was placed into the intramuscular area, you should consult with an attorney. Another aspect is that the act may be revised so that patients that have a seasonal influenza vaccine and develop Guillain-Barré syndrome within a 3-42 day period, may be entitled to compensation without proving causation in fact. Prior to now, you had to prove that the vaccine was the cause in fact of the injury.
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