For individuals diagnosed with vaccine-related injuries and illnesses, securing just compensation is an important part of the recovery process. Not only can these injuries and illnesses be incredibly expensive, but they can also impact all aspects of a person’s life.
What Vaccine Recipients Need to Know Before Filing a VICP Claim
In most cases, securing just compensation for a vaccine-related injury or illness involves filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). How hard is it to file a successful VICP claim? Vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant explains:
1. The VICP Is a Different Type of Federal Government Program
The first thing to know about the VICP is that it is different from other types of federal government programs. There isn’t an application process, and there is no schedule of benefits that determines how much you are entitled to receive.
Instead, filing a VICP claim involves submitting a petition to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (also known as the “Vaccine Court”). Government attorneys will review your petition and decide whether to acknowledge your right to compensation or dispute your claim in court. If they acknowledge your right to compensation, the next step is usually entering into settlement negotiations. If they dispute your claim, then it will be up to you to prove that you qualify for compensation under the VICP.
2. Filing a Successful Claim Requires Proof of Eligibility
Proving that you qualify for compensation under the VICP starts with establishing your eligibility. Here, there is an important distinction between “on-table” and “off-table” vaccine-related injuries and illnesses:
- On-Table Vaccine-Related Injuries and Illnesses – On-table conditions are those listed on the Vaccine Injury Table. In cases involving on-table injuries and illnesses, proof of causation isn’t required as long as the claimant’s symptoms onset within the time period specified on the table.
- Off–Table Vaccine-Related Injuries and Illnesses – Injuries and illnesses that aren’t listed on the Vaccine Injury Table are referred to as off-table conditions. While these conditions are covered under the VICP (as long as they result from a covered vaccine), claimants must be able to prove causation to recover just compensation.
In addition to proving that you have a qualifying on-table or off-table injury, you must meet other eligibility criteria as well. Even if you are eligible, if you don’t make this clear in your petition, you could end up without the compensation you deserve.
3. Filing a Successful Claim Requires Proof of Your Financial Costs
When seeking financial compensation under the VICP, it is up to you to make sure you are seeking the full compensation you deserve. This includes compensation for the present and future financial costs of your vaccine-related injury or illness. Recoverable financial costs under the VICP include:
- Medical diagnosis and treatment expenses
- Prescriptions, medical supplies, and other out-of-pocket medical costs
- Loss of income and benefits
While adding up your financial costs to date may be a fairly straightforward process, the more challenging—and in many cases much more important—part is calculating your long-term financial losses. You only get to file one VICP claim. So, it is essential to ensure that you obtain all of the financial resources you will need to cover your costs in the future.
4. Filing a Successful Claim Requires Proof of Your Pain and Suffering
Along with financial costs, VICP claimants are also entitled to just compensation for their pain and suffering—up to a maximum of $250,000. But, here too, you must be able to prove how much you are entitled to recover.
Proving the “value” of your pain and suffering is a multi-step process. First, you must document your pain and suffering. Then, you must calculate an appropriate compensation award based on the severity and duration of your injury or illness’s non-financial effects. Once again, you must accurately calculate just compensation for your present and future losses to ensure that you are seeking the full compensation available to you under the VICP.
5. Vaccine Recipients Must File Their VICP Claims with the “Vaccine Court”
As we mentioned above, seeking financial compensation under the VICP involves filing a claim in the Vaccine Court. A Special Master will preside over your case, and government attorneys will make sure you don’t receive any compensation for which you don’t qualify. While many successful vaccine injury claims result in negotiated settlements, some petitioners must argue their claims in court
6. Obtaining VICP Compensation Involves Negotiating a Settlement or Proving Your Rights in Court
If the government’s attorneys acknowledge that you qualify for compensation under the VICP, resolving your claim will most likely involve negotiating a settlement. However, a settlement is not guaranteed, and you need to make sure you are seeking a reasonable amount so that you don’t reject a fair settlement or accept less than you deserve.
If a fair settlement isn’t on the table, you will need to prove your rights in the Vaccine Court. The government’s attorneys will dispute your claim, and you will need to overcome their defenses in order to receive any compensation for your vaccine-related injury or illness.
7. You Can Hire a Vaccine Attorney to Handle Your VICP Claim At No Cost to You
Due to the challenges involved in filing a successful vaccine injury claim, it is best to have an experienced vaccine attorney on your side. Fortunately, you can hire an experienced vaccine attorney at no cost to you. The VICP pays claimants’ legal fees separately from their compensation awards, so it truly costs nothing to engage experienced legal representation for your claim.
Discuss Your VICP Claim with Vaccine Attorney Leah V. Durant for Free
Do you have a vaccine injury claim under the VICP? If you think you may be entitled to financial compensation for a vaccine-related injury or illness, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To schedule a free initial consultation with vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant, please call 202-800-1711 or request an appointment 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.