How Do Vaccine Recipients Obtain Compensation Under the VICP?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) serves as a source of financial recovery for vaccine recipients and families who are coping with the effects of vaccine-related injuries and illnesses. While the VICP is a federal government program, obtaining compensation is not as simple as filing an application for benefits. Instead, claimants must file a petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (also known as the “Vaccine Court”), and they must present sufficient evidence to prove that they qualify for compensation under the program. Both of these are steps that require the advice and representation of an experienced vaccine lawyer.

Claims filed under the VICP have three potential outcomes: (i) the Vaccine Court can award compensation; (ii) the Vaccine Court can deny compensation; or, (iii) the petitioner and the government attorneys representing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can negotiate a settlement. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is the DHHS agency responsible for administering the VICP, “[a]pproximately 60% of all compensation awarded by the VICP comes as result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.”

The HRSA’s data also indicate that only about 45% of all claims filed under the VICP have resulted in compensation awards. So, what does it take to file a successful VICP claim, and how can claimants improve their chances of negotiating a favorable out-of-court settlement?

4 Keys to Obtaining Compensation Under the VICP

From determining your eligibility to making sure you file your petition on time, there are several steps involved in filing a successful claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). With this in mind, here are four of the keys to obtaining compensation under the VICP:

1. File an Effective (and Compliant) Petition

A claimant’s petition is his or her first opportunity to present your claim to the Vaccine Court and to the government attorneys who will be determining whether to dispute the claim or offer a settlement. As a result, it is extremely important to make sure that the petition presents the claim effectively. Claimants also need to make sure their petitions comply with the VICP’s technical and procedural requirements, as filing a non-compliant petition can result in a denial even if a claimant is otherwise eligible to receive compensation under the program.

What does a VICP petition need to say? While there are some general requirements, a VICP petition should reflect the vaccine recipient’s unique individual circumstances. Crafting an effective VICP petition takes time, it requires a detail-oriented approach, and it requires a thorough understanding of the laws and rules that govern vaccine injury claims.

2. Gather Adequate Evidence of Compensability

Along with the petition, VICP claimants must present adequate evidence of compensability. In other words, claimants must be able to prove that they qualify to receive a compensation award under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The basic eligibility criteria for compensability are:

  • A Covered Vaccine – The VICP only provides compensation for injuries and illnesses linked to the “covered vaccines” listed on the Vaccine Injury Table.
  • An Eligible Injury or Illness – To be eligible for compensation under the VICP, an injury or illness must last for six months or longer, result in inpatient hospitalization, require surgical intervention or result in death.
  • A Timely Claim – For non-fatal vaccine injuries and illnesses, claimants have up to three years to file a petition. For fatal vaccine injuries and illnesses, claimants have up to two years from the date of death in most cases.

It is also important to indicate whether the claim involves an “on table” or “off table” injury. “On table” injuries are those that are specifically listed on the Vaccine Injury Table. With an “on table” injury, causation is presumed. With an “off table” injury, a claimant must present additional evidence proving that the vaccination caused the claimant’s (or the claimant’s family member’s) illness or injury.

3. Gather Adequate Evidence of Damages

In addition to proving that they qualify to receive compensation under the VICP, claimants must also prove how much they are entitled to recover. This involves proving three distinct types of losses:

  • Medical Bills – The VICP covers “[p]ast and future unreimbursable medical, custodial and rehabilitation care, and related expenses, without limits and based on need for care.”
  • Lost Income – The VICP also covers vaccine recipients’ lost income if they are unable to work (or forced to work in a lower-paying job) for any length of time as a result of their injury or illness.
  • Pain and Suffering – In addition to recovering their financial losses, VICP claimants can also seek “[a]s much as $250,000 for actual and projected pain and suffering.”

From medical and employment records to sworn statements from friends and family members, claimants need various types of evidence to prove the value of their VICP claims. Beyond proving their losses to date, claimants must prove their future anticipated losses as well.

4. Be Proactive About Targeting a Settlement

Settling a VICP claim generally affords the quickest resolution, and it avoids the inherent uncertainty of asking the Vaccine Court to render a decision. While the government’s attorneys will generally be willing to negotiate when it is clear that a claimant has a valid claim, claimants must be proactive about pursuing settlement negotiations. Once a claimant has all of the evidence that is needed to substantiate his or her claim for compensation, then the claimant (or the claimant’s vaccine lawyer) can present a strong argument for a fair settlement. However, a settlement is never guaranteed, and claimants should be prepared to take their claims to the Vaccine Court if necessary.

Request a Free Consultation with National Vaccine Lawyer Leah V. Durant

National vaccine lawyer Leah V. Durant has helped hundreds of vaccine recipients and families obtain compensation for vaccine-related injuries and illnesses under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. To discuss your VICP claim with Ms. Durant in confidence, call 202-800-1711 or request a free consultation online today.


Leah Durant Bio

Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.