Who Pays the Costs of a Case in the VICP?
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (or VICP) was a response to some vaccine manufacturers' decision to stop making certain vaccines. This put the supply of those life-saving vaccines in jeopardy. In order to ensure that there was an adequate supply and to ensure the costs to vaccine manufacturers was predictable, Congress came up with a "no-fault" system - the VICP. The VICP gives potential victims of vaccine injuries a forum to have their cases heard, but limits the lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. That is not to say that vaccine manufacturers do not pay for vaccine injuries.
Vaccine manufacturers pay a seventy five cent excise tax for each dose they make of any vaccines which are covered by the VICP. This excise tax goes into a special fund managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The VICP was also intended to the potential compensation readily accessible. Because the program can be complicated, using an attorney experienced in the VICP to help with a petition is a good idea. However, attorneys can be expensive. This expense could serve as a deterrent to people wanting to file petitions. So, the VICP makes sure that costs are not an obstacle: The law prohibits attorneys from charging the clients for helping to file a petition.
There is never any charge to the injured petitioner for attorneys’ fees. Attorneys are paid from the very same fund from which compensation for petitioners injuries. This goes for any money the attorney might spend to bring your petition, such as medical expert reviews (if those become necessary). These costs, too, are also paid by the program. Many of the costs that the injured petitioner might have (such as establishing guardianships for a minor who was injured by a vaccine) will also be paid by the program.
The most important thing to remember is that, if you believe you have been injured by a vaccine, attorneys are not allowed to charge you for filing a petition in the VICP on your behalf. Therefore, because of the complexities of the program, and the lack of a cost to you, it is important that you seek the assistance of a competent attorney to bring your claim.