What is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was established in 1988 to compensate individuals and families of individuals injured by covered. The NVICP was adopted in response to concerns about lawsuits against vaccine makers, some of which resulted in substantial awards.
Those awards caused some vaccine manufacturers to cease production, which in turn caused supply problems and a reduction in the vaccination rate. Congress was concerned these reductions would cause a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases.
The NVICP sought to correct these problems by establishing a no-fault system for resolving vaccine injury claims and removing the potential for runaway jury awards. Compensation under the NVICP covers medical and legal expenses, loss of future earning capacity, and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering, and a death benefit of up to $250,000 is available. If certain minimal requirements are met, legal expenses are compensated even for unsuccessful claims. Since 1988, the program has been funded by an excise tax of 75 cents on every purchased dose of covered vaccine. To win an award, a claimant must have experienced an injury that is named as a vaccine injury in a table that can be found here.
The NVICP may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by an NVICP-covered vaccine. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, petitioners may receive compensation through a settlement.
The process begins with a petition to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Next, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services medical staff reviews the petition, determines if it meets the medical criteria for compensation, and makes a preliminary recommendation. Then, the U.S. Department of Justice develops a report that includes the medical recommendation and legal analysis and submits it to the Court. The report is presented to a court-appointed special master, who decides whether the petitioner should be compensated, often after holding a hearing in which both parties can present evidence. If compensation is awarded, the special master determines the amount and type of compensation. Even if the special master dismisses the petition, the Court can order the Department to pay attorneys’ fees and costs so long as certain minimum requirements are met.
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Although an individual can file a petition, most petitions are prepared and filed by a vaccination injury lawyer admitted to practice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Contact us to see if you may have a claim and to seek help with pursuing a claim.