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Vaccine Injuries

Vaccinations are an integral part of the success of modern public health initiatives and have greatly improved the quality of life and health of American citizens by preventing the spread of disease. However, despite the clear benefits of vaccinations – a certain number of people are going to become ill and even die as a direct result of vaccinations. Most people who receive vaccines do not experience any adverse reactions. For those unfortunate few who do develop sickness from the vaccination about 85% of vaccines adverse events are relatively minor – such as ordinary fevers or redness and swelling at the injection site. The remaining 15% describe serious events such as seizures, high fevers, life threatening illnesses, or deaths. Congress recognized that it was important to protect vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits so they would continue to make vaccines and at the same time set up a no-fault system so people injured by vaccines would be helped.

As a result Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which created a unique mechanism for compensating persons who have suffered vaccine injuries. The Act established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (the “VICP” or the “Program”) 42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-10 et seq. as an alternative to traditional products liability and medical malpractice litigation for persons injured by their receipt of one or more standard childhood vaccines The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was created by Congress as a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims. Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to protect the nation’s vaccine supply by reducing lawsuits against manufacturers and to compensate individuals who are the victims of vaccine injuries.

The law requires that claims for vaccine injuries be processed in the Vaccine Program prior to the filing of any civil lawsuit. Instead of bringing a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers or your doctor, a person injured must file his or her case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (located in Washington, D.C.). Each case is defended by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the defendant), represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ). All cases are presided over by the Office of Special Masters. A special master (or judge) is assigned to every case and decides the outcome in the event it proceeds to a hearing (or trial).

Vaccines covered under VICP include:

  • Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DTP, DtaP, Tdap, DT, Td, or TT)
  • Haemophilis influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A (HAV)
  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Trivalent influenza (TIV, LAIV)(given each year during flu season)
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR, MR. M, R)
  • Meningoccal (conjugate & polysaccharide) (MCV4, MPSV4)(meningitis)
  • Polio (IPV, OPV)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate( PCV) (Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, cause bacterial meningitis, deaths, ear infections in children)
  • Rotovirus (RV)
  • Varicella (VZV)(chickenpox)
  • Papillomavirus (HPV)(STD, cervical cancer)
  • or any combination of above vaccines.

Even if a vaccine that injured does not appear on the above list you still may be able to receive compensation under the vaccine injury compensation program.

You only have a limited amount of time to bring a case for a vaccine-related injury, the statute of limitations requires that your claim must be filed within three (3) years from the date of onset of symptoms. However, to be safe, we recommend that you file no later than three (3) years from the date of your vaccination. In the event of a vaccine-related death, a claim must be filed no later than two (2) years from the date of death. The law does provide that a vaccine-injured person who loses his or her case in the Vaccine Program, or who rejects the Program’s award as inadequate, has the right to file a civil action against the administrator or manufacturer of the vaccine. While most states have “tolling provisions” that extend the state statutes of limitations for minors and mentally handicapped persons, the Vaccine Program has no such provisions. However, once a claim is filed in the Vaccine Program the state statute of limitations is suspended and does not resume until the Vaccine Program proceedings have ended.

Unlike traditional lawsuits, an injured party does not pay his or her attorney a percentage of his or her awards. The VICP compensates reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs which are paid separately from any compensation award.  Compensation that may be awarded for a vaccine-related injury includes: reasonable compensation for past and future medical care, custodial care and rehabilitation costs, past and future lost earnings, up to $250,000 for pain and suffering and emotional distress, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The federal government pays attorneys separately from the award for compensation for the injured party.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund provides funding for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to pay for vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988. The Trust is funded by an excise tax on each dose of vaccine purchased. The estimated balance of the Trust Fund is $2.8 billion.

The damage caused by a vaccine can be devastating. Mr. O’Keefe has been admitted to the United States Court of Federal Claims where all vaccine injury cases are heard so that you can recover the compensation you deserve. If you or a family member has been injured from a vaccine call our vaccine injury lawyers for a free consultation.