Have You Sustained a Vaccine-Related Injury? Get Information About Your Legal Rights

2/23/2004

A National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established in 1986 after reports of harmful side effects from DPT (deptheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccinations were perceived as posing “liability concerns” for vaccine manufacturers. Parents of injured children had filed numerous lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and health care providers. It was perceived that the rate of vaccine administration would decrease and that manufacturers would get “out of the business” unless Congress acted. Perceiving a threat to the nation’s health, Congress created a No-Fault system to compensate those injured by vaccine receipt. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Act (VICP), 42 U.S.C. § 300 aa -1 et seq., was established in 1986. It is administered jointly by Department of Health & Human Servcies (HHS), the US Court of Federal Claims, and US Dept of Justice (DOJ).

The VICP is a no-fault system for resolving vaccine injury claims. It provides a less adversarial alternative to the traditional tort system to resolve claims. The program is funded by an excise tax of $0.75 on every dose of covered vaccine purchased. This money goes into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund from which awards are paid.

The VICP covers all vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for routine administration to children. This includes the Deptheria, Tetanus and Pertusis (DTP, DtaP, DT, TT or Td); Measels, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Polio (OPV or IPV); Hepatitis B; Hepatitis A, Human Papilloma virus, Influenza, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib); Varicella (chicken pox); Rotavirus; Pneumococcal conjugate; Meningococcal (added 2/1/07)and any new vaccine that comes on the market and is recommended for use in children.

Any age person who believes they have sustained an injury secondary to vaccine administration can bring a claim. To qualify for compensation, a claimant must show that they have sustained an injury listed on the Vaccine Injury Table that is temporally related to the receipt of a listed vaccine; or that the vaccine received significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition; or, if the injury is not listed on the Vaccine Injury Table, prove the vaccine was the “cause-in-fact” of the injury sustained.

Claims must be brought within 36 months of the onset of symptoms or the manifestation of onset of symptoms, or a significant aggravation of the injury. The injury must have lasted more than six months after the vaccine administration or the injury claim must have required hospitalization and surgical intervention. Where the injury resulted in death, the claim must be filed within 24 months of the death and within 48 months after onset of vaccine related injury.  There is an exclusivity clause in the Act which requires that any claim related to a vaccine injury must first be brought within the VICP before civil litigation in the state or federal courts may be commenced against a vaccine manufacturer. However, any state statute of limitations is stayed during the pendency of the action in VICP.

While a claimant does not need an attorney to file a petition for compensation under the Act, the rules followed by the Vaccine Court (The Federal Court of Special Claims) are very specific. Failure to follow the rules appropriately can result in dismissal of a claim. Attorneys who practice in this area must be specially admitted to the U.S. Court of Special Claims. The attorneys at Lommen Nelson have experience working in this area and would be very happy to handle these matters for you. If you or someone you know may have sustained a vaccine-related injury and you would like more information about your legal rights, contact Sheila Bjorklund at 612-336-9312, 800-752-4297, or sheila@lommen.com.

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