What are my rights if I suffered a shoulder injury after vaccination (e.g., the flu shot)?
A shoulder injury after vaccination is very rare. Many of us experience some pain after vaccination, but most post-vaccine pain is not serious and will not last very long. Most post-vaccine pain will disappear within a few days.
Rarely, the pain will not disappear after a few days. This pain will often be severe for weeks, months, or even years. This kind of pain, which is often accompanied by a limitation in the ability to move your arm, is a symptom of what is known as a "Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Injury" or "SIRVA."
To understand your rights if you have a SIRVA, a little history is helpful.
Before 1988, if you were injured by a vaccine administration, you had the right to sue the medical care provider who gave you the injection or the vaccine manufacturer (or both). In the 1970s and 1980s, the number of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers increased significantly, and large payouts, particularly for one type of vaccine: the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (or DPT) vaccine. The large and often unpredictable expense of these lawsuits led to many vaccine manufacturers to stop making vaccines, particularly the DPT vaccine. In fact, by 1984, the number of manufacturers of the DPT vaccine had been reduced to one. If this one stopped making the vaccine, no more DPT vaccines would be available.
So, Congress stepped in with a "no-fault" system. Congress passed the National Childhood Injury Act of 1986, which began taking petitions (or claims) in 1988. For each vaccine covered by the program, manufacturers pay into a fund managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This fund would be used to compensate people who were injured by a vaccine covered by the program, instead of those injured people needing to sue.
so, even though the manufacturers were still paying money for potential injuries, this money was relatively low (manufacturers pay seventy-five cents per covered vaccine they sell) and the cost to manufacturers became completely predictable.
Now, if you experience a SIRVA from a covered vaccine, you must first file a petition for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which is funded by those vaccine manufacturers. From the first symptoms, you have three years to file your petition. Once you have filed your petition, you may end up with a decision awarding you damages, but these are not the limits of your rights concerning a vaccine injury.
The important thing to know is that you must file a petition with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program within three years. If you do not do so, any rights you may have had maybe foreclosed. The program itself can be complicated, so it is a good idea to seek the assistance of an attorney experienced with the VICP.