HRSA: These Three Factors Influence Settlement Decisions for Vaccine Injury Claims

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation to individuals and families who are coping with the effects of vaccine-related illnesses and injuries. It is administered by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). HRSA publishes a monthly Data & Statistics report with information about claims filed under the VICP; and, on the introductory page of the report, it outlines three factors that influence decisions regarding settlement.

When Do Vaccine Injury Claims Under the VICP Claims Settle?

Claims filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program have four potential outcomes. While you have the option to file a claim on your own, it costs nothing to hire a vaccine lawyer to represent you—and hiring an experienced vaccine lawyer can significantly increase your chances of achieving a favorable result. The four potential outcomes of a VICP claim are:

  • Concession – If the evidence presented with a claim makes it undeniably clear that the claimant is entitled to compensation under the VICP, then DHHS may concede the claim and award payment.
  • Settlement – If DHHS acknowledges that a claimant is eligible but does not agree with the claimant’s calculation of damages, then the parties may enter into a negotiated settlement.
  • Court Award – If DHHS does not agree that payment is warranted, then the claim will go before a Special Master at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, who may issue an award or compensation.
  • Denial – If a claim goes to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the Special Master determines that the claimant is not eligible to receive payment, then the claim will be denied.

During the VICP’s 2020 fiscal year, a total of 798 claims were resolved. Of these, 618 resulted in compensation awards—over half of which were achieved via settlement.

Three Reasons a Petition Might Result in a Negotiated Settlement

Settling provides an opportunity for National Vaccine Injury Program claimants and DHHS to achieve a mutually-satisfactory result without the need to go before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. According to HRSA, the following are the three primary factors that influence the government’s decision to settle vaccine injury claims under the VICP:

  • “Consideration of prior U.S. Court of Federal Claims decisions, [if] both parties decide to minimize risk of loss through settlement.”
  • “A desire to minimize the time and expense of litigating a case.”
  • “The desire to resolve a petition quickly.”

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Consideration of Prior Court Decisions
Under our legal system in the United States, there are two ways of establishing federal law: (i) Congress can enact a statute; or, (ii) the federal courts can render a decision. Prior court decisions are referred to as “precedent,” and the courts must consider relevant precedent when rendering decisions in subsequent cases.

Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1988; and, since the program’s establishment, close to 20,000 claims have been filed. A significant number of these cases have been resolved by court decision. As a result, today, there is a substantial body of precedent governing VICP claims, and DHHS considers this precedent when deciding whether to settle new claims.

2. Minimizing the Time and Expense of Litigation
Taking a VICP claim to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims takes time, and it costs the federal government money. Not only must the government pay the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys who defend DHHS in VICP claims, but it must pay claimants’ legal fees and costs as well.

Given these considerations, when there is a genuine dispute as to (i) whether a claimant is entitled to compensation, or (ii) how much compensation a claimant is owed, DHHS will often determine that the best course of action is to settle. Rather than litigating a case it might or might not win, DHHS will opt to offer a reasonable settlement that allows for a mutually-agreeable resolution, that mitigates the government’s risk of loss, and that allows DHHS personnel and the DOJ’s attorneys to focus their efforts disputing unfounded claims.

3. Desire to Resolve a Petition Quickly
In addition to considerations of governmental economy, there are other factors that can lean in favor of resolving a VICP claim quickly without litigating in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. For example, if a claimant has been diagnosed with a severe form of vaccine injury or illness and is in need of immediate financial assistance, both parties may have an interest in resolving the claim quickly via settlement. For claimants who need to try to obtain a quick settlement, hiring a vaccine lawyer to communicate with DHHS and the DOJ can often significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to secure payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

Seeking a Settlement Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

For many people, securing a settlement is a desirable option when filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If you have been diagnosed with a vaccine injury or illness, what can you do to increase your chances of securing a VICP settlement?

  • Thoroughly Prepare a Petition that Provides Documentation of Eligibility – Make sure your petition contains all necessary information. This includes documentation of your eligibility to receive compensation under the VICP.
  • Submit Evidence of Your Financial and NonFinancial Losses – In addition to providing documentation of your eligibility, also submit documentation of your medical bills, lost wages, and the amount you believe you are entitled to recover for your pain and suffering.
  • Hire a Vaccine Lawyer to Handle Your Claim and Pursue Settlement – Hiring a vaccine lawyer can significantly increase your chances of obtaining a settlement, and you can hire a lawyer at no cost to you.

Discuss Your VICP Claim with Vaccine Lawyer Leah V. Durant

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a vaccine injury and you are interested in pursuing a settlement under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. To discuss your VICP claim with vaccine lawyer Leah V. Durant in confidence, call 202-800-1711 or tell us how we can reach you 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.