The U.S. Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986 and the Vaccine Compensation Amendments in 1987 and 1995. The Act establishes a compensation system for those persons who may be injured by routine vaccinations. The system is intended to compensate persons with vaccine injuries without proving, at times, the causation of the injury and without demonstrating that a vaccine manufacturer was negligent. H.R. Rep. 99-908, 99th Cong., (1986).
Do I Have to Pay an Attorney?
Attorney’s fees and costs are paid separately out of the same Vaccine Injury fund from which awards of compensation are paid, so you don’t pay your Attorney with your own money. The Attorney’s fees and costs do not come out of the award of compensation for your vaccine injury. Attorney’s fees are paid out of the Fund whether you are successful in your claim or not.
Do I Have to Hire a Law Firm in My State?
No. The court in which your case must be brought is in Washington, DC and covers all vaccine injury claims in the United States. Our attorneys are able to represent you before this Court anywhere in the United States or its territories.
I Don’t Like the Idea of Suing?
Who does? US Vaccine Law handles NO OTHER KIND OF LITIGATION, period. We don’t sue people, we don’t sue corporations. We are here to assist you during this process, to guide you and protect you. It’s a process and not a lawsuit. This Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund was set out to HELP, not to hurt any other party. You are not taking from US Government nor are you suing manufacturers. This Compensation Fund was set up specifically to help those individuals and families who have been injured as a result of a vaccine.
What Kind of Information Will You Need to Start Building a Case?
The first thing we’ll ask is for a copy of all the relevant medical records (if you have copies) and also a list of every doctor or hospital where you’ve received treatment for your vaccine injury. We use this list to gather the remaining medical records on file at each location. We are then required to turn over a copy of your complete and comprehensive medical records to the Court.
How Do You File a Claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
Your claim is initiated by filing a petition with the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Once the petition is filed, a Special Master is assigned to the case. A Special Master is a specialized judge that handles only vaccine injury claims. The Special Master decides the outcome of the case instead of a jury.
What Are the Legal Procedures and What Can I Expect at Trial?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acts as the defendant in these cases. It is represented by Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys throughout the process. HHS reviews the petition and decides whether to dispute your claim that the vaccine caused the injury or to concede that the vaccine was responsible. If HHS concedes that the vaccine caused the injury, the next step is to determine the value of the damages. If this cannot be agreed on there is a trial (called a hearing) on the topic of damages before the Special Master.
If HHS does not concede, there is an initial trial (called a hearing) on the issue of whether the vaccine caused the injury. The trial is typically held at the nearest federal courthouse to where you live.
You may testify and so may some of your family or friends. It may be helpful to have your doctor or doctors testify. An expert physician or expert physicians hired on your behalf will testify about how the vaccine caused the injury. Then at least one Health and Human Services expert witnesses will likely testify as to why the vaccine did not cause the injury. Following this the Special Master will decide whether the vaccine caused the injury. If the Special Master decides in your favor, then we go on to the issue of damages. If we cannot agree with HHS as to the value of the damages, we will have a second trial to determine the amount of the compensation.
How Long Does the Entire Process Take?
This process is designed to be quicker than civil litigation. With some exceptions, it usually is. A hearing on whether the vaccine caused the injury often occurs within a year. Cases that settle can conclude in as little as a year. Other cases, despite our best efforts, can take several years.
What Type of Compensation is Usually Awarded in these Cases?
Compensation includes monetary damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Compensation for pain and suffering is limited to a maximum of $250,000. There is no limit of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.