Filing a successful vaccine injury claim is not easy. It requires time, patience and a thorough understanding of the federal laws that apply. It also requires you to act promptly, and you need to know what to expect – and how to respond – at each stage of the process. In this article, vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant provides an overview of what you need to know before you file a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
10 Important Facts about Filing a Claim Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
1. Not All Vaccine Injuries are Eligible for Compensation
Before you begin the process of filing a VICP claim, you first need to determine if you are eligible to file. In order to be eligible, you must have been diagnosed with an injury that either: (i) lasts at least six months from the date of vaccination; or, (ii) requires inpatient hospitalization and surgical intervention. In addition, your injury must have resulted from a “covered” vaccine.
Under the VICP, covered vaccines include those that are administered in order to prevent:
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
- Hepatitis A and B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Seasonal influenza
- Varicella (chickenpox)
2. You Need a Comprehensive (and Timely) Diagnosis of Your Vaccine Injury
In order to file a VICP claim, you must first receive a medical diagnosis. In addition to identifying your injury, your diagnosis must also link your injury to your vaccination. This is done by showing that you first experienced symptoms (or other “manifestation of onset”) within the timeframe prescribed by the VICP’s Vaccine Injury Table.
3. Filing a VICP Claim is a Litigious Process
While the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a federal government benefit program, filing a claim under the VICP is a litigious process. Claims are filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (also known as the Vaccine Court); and, in order to receive compensation, you must be able to prove that you meet the VICP’s eligibility criteria. The government will be represented by attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and you will need to be able to overcome their defenses in order to receive compensation.
4. You Can Hire a Vaccine Injury Lawyer at No Cost to You
When filing a VICP claim, you have the option of hiring a lawyer at no cost. Under the terms of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the program pays claimants’ legal fees separately from their awards of financial compensation. So, not only do you pay nothing out of pocket to hire a lawyer, but you do not pay anything at all.
5. About 20 Percent of All VICP Claims are Denied
According to data from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), approximately 20 percent of all VICP claims filed in the past five years have been denied. Many of these denials have been the result of claimants choosing not to engage legal representation. As mentioned above, filing a successful claim is not easy; and, since you can hire a lawyer at no cost, you have no reason not to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you.
6. The Majority of Successful VICP Claims are Resolved Via Concession or Settlement
Of the approximately 80 percent of VICP claims that result in payment of compensation, the substantial majority are resolved via concession or settlement. Concession occurs when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) determines that a claim qualifies for compensation without further action. Settlement occurs when DHHS and the claimant agree to an award of compensation without a Special Master at the Vaccine Court rendering a decision.
7. You Only Get One Chance to File a Successful VICP Claim
When you are diagnosed with a vaccine injury, you only have one chance to file a successful claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If you make mistakes during your claim, you could lose your ability to recover compensation for the financial and non-financial effects of your injury.
8. It Is Up to You to Calculate Your Losses
The VICP provides compensation for three primary types of losses: (i) medical bills, (ii) loss of income, and (iii) pain and suffering. When you have a VICP claim, it is up to you to determine how much you need to seek in terms of total compensation. While DHHS and the Vaccine Court will evaluate your claim, they will be reviewing your calculation of damages, and they will be looking to see that your calculation is substantiated by the evidence you have presented.
9. It Is Up to You to Decide When (and If) to Settle Your VICP Claim
Just as it is up to you to calculate your losses, it is also up to you to decide when (and if) to settle your VICP claim. If you receive a settlement offer, you do not have to accept; and, if you believe that you are entitled to more, you can keep negotiating—or take your claim to trial if necessary. However, before rejecting a settlement offer, you will want to carefully evaluate all of the circumstances at hand, and you will want to make an informed decision based on the advice of your vaccine injury lawyer.
10. Filing a Successful VICP Claim Can Be Crucial for Your Long-Term Wellbeing
For many people, the process of filing a VICP claim can seem overwhelming. However, if you have a claim, asserting your legal rights will be important, as the financial and non-financial costs of vaccine injuries can be substantial. From covering your medical bills and living expenses to coping with your pain and suffering, filing a VICP claim can help you in many important ways, and securing just compensation could be crucial for your long-term wellbeing.
Do You Have a VICP Claim? Find Out from Vaccine Injury Lawyer Leah V. Durant
Are you entitled to financial compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? To find out, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant. Call 202-800-1711 to request an appointment, or contact us online and we will be in touch shortly.
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.