Across the United States, adults and children regularly receive safe vaccines. Occasionally, though, vaccines cause rare and dangerous diseases. If you received a vaccine and then got sick, you may be a victim entitled to a vaccine injury payout, compensation from a special fund already established for that purpose.
What is a vaccine injury?
Vaccine injuries take many forms. Here is a list of the common injuries and diseases associated with vaccines, but remember, vaccine injuries and symptoms vary widely, so these are just examples:
- Rashes / Hives
- CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome)
- RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
- Shoulder / Rotator Cuff Injuries
- Bursitis / Tendonitis / Adhesive Capsulitis
- Brachial Neuritis
- GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome)
- CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating
- NMO (Neuromyelitis Optica)
- Thrombocytopenic Purpura
- Anaphylactic Shock/Anaphylaxis
- Transverse Myelitis
- ITP (Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura)
- ADEM (Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis)
The above list shows just how much variance exists in vaccine injuries. There is no specific list of diseases that the Program will or will not cover. Also, there is no requirement that the victim be a United States citizen. In assessing whether a victim may get compensation, the government looks to make sure the victim received one of the covered vaccines, and then it considers these factors:
- Did the vaccine cause death? OR
- Did the side effects or disease from the vaccine last more than 6 months? OR
- Did the vaccine cause the victim to undergo a hospital stay or surgery?
Sometimes vaccine injuries are very obvious and clear. But be careful! In some victims, the symptoms of vaccine injuries are subtle and hard to pinpoint. A vaccine injury lawyer can help you find a specially-trained expert who can make a correct diagnosis.
Which vaccines are covered?
The vaccine industry trust fund helps victims injured or killed by any of the following vaccines:
- HPV (Gardasil, Cervarix)
- Hemophilus influenza
- Hepatatis A (Havrix, VAQTA, Twinrix)
- Hepatitis B (Engerix-B, Recombivax HB, Twinirix)
- Pertussis (DTaP, Tdap, DTP, P, DTP-Hib)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR, MR, M, R)
- Meningococcal (MPSV4, MCV4, Menactra)
- Polio (OPV, IPV)
- Pneumococcal (Prevnar)
- Rotavirus (Rota Teq)
- Tetanus (DTaP, Tdap, DTP-Hib, DT, Td, TT)
- Trivalent influenza (flu vaccines, FluMist)
- Varicella (Varivax chickenpox, ProQuad)
If you have a question about whether they type of vaccine you received is covered, please contact the attorneys at Copeley, Johnson & Groninger.
Who pays vaccine injury victims?
About 30 years ago, when children began getting sick and even killed by vaccines, parents began suing vaccine manufacturers and health care providers. The United States Congress worried about widespread fear of vaccines and created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Part of that program, called The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, was created in 1988. Now, across the United States, every time a patient purchases a dose of vaccine, a small tax is paid into The Trust Fund. The vaccine fund money then is used to compensate people injured or killed by vaccine injuries. Thanks to this Vaccine Program, victims of vaccine injuries no longer have to sue vaccine manufacturers and health care providers when a vaccine injures them. Instead, eligible victims may use the federal system set up just for this purpose to collect compensation. Since the vaccine injury compensation program was first started, thousands of victims have received compensation from the Trust Fund, totaling in the billions of dollars. The vaccine injury fund is still available to help victims.
What is the process?
Thanks to the Vaccine Program, vaccine injury victims no longer need to file a formal vaccine injury lawsuit. Instead, they file with the federal courts a pleading known as a “petition.” The process is designed to be speedier than the typical civil lawsuit, but it still requires evidentiary proof to support a claim. Once the petition is filed, the government assigns the case to a type of judge, known as a “Special Master,” who is specially trained in ruling on vaccine injury claims. The Special Master decides on the compensation to the vaccine injury victims. Therefore, unlike in normal lawsuits, no jury is involved.
Once a vaccine injury victim files a petition, government attorneys review whether the petition contains the required proof. Using that information, they decide whether to: 1) contest the claim that the vaccine caused the injury and meets the criteria for compensation, or 2) admit that the vaccine caused the injury. The government attorneys file a report describing their position. If they admit that the vaccine caused the injury, the only question left to decide is damages (how much money). If they deny that the vaccine caused the injury, the case goes to an initial entitlement hearing, usually held at a federal courthouse near the victim. At the hearing, it is common for the victim to testify along with doctors, experts, friends, and family. After the hearing, the Special Master will make a ruling to decide whether the victim is entitled to compensation.
Often, at this point, the attorneys on both sides negotiate to reach a fair settlement, meaning a voluntary agreement satisfactory to both the victim and the government. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the victim can appeal or request a second hearing about the amount of damages, depending on the outcome of the first hearing. In cases when the Special Master does award compensation, the award usually includes an amount for the victim’s attorney fees and costs.
How much are victims compensated?
Every case is different. Every victim of vaccine injuries suffers different types of loss at different levels of severity. In general, the Program allows victims to recover the following:
- Money for pain and suffering (up to a maximum limit of $250,000.00)
- Compensation for past and future medical expenses
- Compensation for support and rehabilitation
- Past and future lost wages and other economic damages
- Reasonable attorneys’ costs and fees
The vaccine injury victim has the burden of providing correct legal evidence to support their claim for damages. The vaccine injury team at Copeley, Johnson & Groninger works collaboratively with physicians, experts, and other professionals to make sure its clients present their strongest claim possible.
How can an attorney help?
The Vaccine Program can be very complex to navigate and can involve complicated legal, medical and damages issues, so having an attorney on your side may help you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Attorneys can also help you understand important deadlines and the burden of proof. The experienced and dedicated attorneys at Copeley, Johnson & Groninger can help victims of vaccine injury present a victim’s strongest possible case, by helping victims navigate complex legal issues and consult with professionals such as immunologists, neurologists, dermatologists, life care planners, economists, and psychologists.
Unlike most cases, attorneys in vaccine injury cases do not take a percentage of the recovery. Instead, their pay comes directly from the Trust Fund. Also, if the vaccine injury attorneys at Copeley, Johnson & Groninger believe the case has merit, ethical rules allow them to advance their their clients’ filing fees, expert witness fees, costs to obtain medical records, travel expenses, etc. This means you pay those expenses back at the end of the case, so you pay nothing up front to be represented by an experienced lawyer.
If you believe you are a vaccine injury victim entitled to recovery, contact an attorney at Copeley, Johnson & Groninger to discuss how they may be able to help. They are experienced, dedicated, and compassionate attorneys who can help you understand your legal rights and the steps you need to take to protect your rights and seek compensation.
Please call or contact us today!