Vaccine Injury Compensation

(Page 2 of 2 of Vaccine Injuries: The Federal Compensation Program)

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How much a VICP claimant might receive depends on whether the vaccine caused injury or death.

Injured Individuals

Under the VICP, injured individuals (or their parents or legal guardians) may be paid one or more of the following:

  • past and future nonreimbursable medical, custodial care, and rehabilitation costs, and related expenses (there are no limits to what victims may be paid, but the amounts must be reasonable for the particular injury)
  • reimbursement for actual and projected pain and suffering, up to $250,000
  • lost earnings, and
  • reasonable attorneys' fees and other legal costs.

Deceased Individuals

If a person dies from a covered vaccine, the deceased person's estate may receive:

  • up to $250,000 as a death benefit, and
  • reasonable attorneys' fees and other legal costs.

How to File a VICP Claim

To start the process, file a petition (legal document) with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The petition should contain the following information:

  • who was injured by the vaccine
  • which vaccine caused the injury
  • when the vaccine was given
  • the city and State or country where the vaccine was given
  • the type of injury
  • when the first symptom of the injury appeared, and
  • how long the effects of the injury lasted.

You must also include medical records and all other documents that show you meet the VICP requirements for claim eligibility.

The fee to file a claim is $350. If you can't afford the fee, you may be able to get it waived. (Call the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims at 202-357-6400 for help with this.)

The rules of court are very specific as to what you must do to file your claim (for example, you must send additional copies to certain federal agencies, attach the court cover sheet, and more). Check the HRSA's VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation for details. If you don't comply with the Rules of Court, your claim will be rejected.

Most claimants hire an attorney to assist them in preparing and filing the petition (although this is not required). As long as you file the claim in good faith, you can get reimbursed for reasonable fees you pay to your attorney, even if your claim is denied. To get a list of attorneys who handle VICP claims, you can:

  • contact the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims at (202) 357-6400, or
  • contact your State or local bar association.

Once Your Claim is Filed: The Claim Process

Once the VICP claim is filed, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reviews the medical information and a Department of justice (DOJ) attorney reviews the legal aspects of the claim. The HHS and DOJ reviews are combined into one report that is sent to the court and to the petitioner (the person filing the claim) or the petitioner's attorney.

A "special master" (a lawyer appointed by the judges of the court) decides if the claim will be paid -- and if so, how much will be paid. The petitioner can accept or reject the special master's decision.

The petitioner or the HHS may appeal (ask for a review by a higher court) the special master's decision to a judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and, finally, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finding a Good Personal Injury Lawyer

If you'd like to talk to a personal injury lawyer about a claim for childhood vaccine injuries under the VICP, one good way is to ask friends, acquaintances, or other lawyers for referrals -- and then interview the candidates. In addition, Nolo provides a personalized Lawyer Directory with information about each personal injury lawyer's experience, education, fees, and more. By using Nolo's directory you can narrow down candidates before calling them for a phone or face-to-face interview. For more details on locating and selecting a good personal injury lawyer, read Nolo's article Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer.

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