One of the major concerns that people have when deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit regarding defective medications is that there will be an intense courtroom trial. Many potential plaintiffs are scared off because they are afraid of what going to court entails. They believe that it will be a long and drawn out process that will compound the injury and angst that they have already suffered. When it comes to filing a claim for a vaccine injury, you do not have to worry about a drawn out hearing. You will be pleased to know that many cases are decided solely on the basis of the written record and any kind of hearings are relatively rare in vaccine cases.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) Is a Policy Choice By Congress to Encourage Vaccines
Vaccine injury cases do not go to state or federal court like other cases where plaintiffs are claiming damages from pharmaceuticals. Congress was worried about the effect that lawsuits would have on the vaccine industry, especially those companies that manufacture vaccines that are administered to children. There was evidence that the effect of lawsuits kept companies out of markets where their expertise was needed to create safe vaccines. When these vaccines had proven to be unsafe, the possible liability and expense from lawsuit heightened the companies’ legal burden. In turn, they had begun to refrain from developing new vaccines.
With that in mind, Congress created VICP to both give patients a streamlined procedure that can help them be compensated and to lessen the legal liability of the makers. The intent of the VICP is to create procedures that are less intensive than those of a district court to encourage people to take vaccinations and to dissuade the makers from exiting the market.
Where the VICP helps the vaccine makers is that it takes the responsibility for paying for injuries out of their hands. When a company makes a vaccine, they will not be liable to pay for any side effects or complications that anyone suffers from taking them. Instead, the VICP is funded by the patients and insurance companies.
Every vaccine that is sold includes a small tax for each dose. The tax goes to the VICP and is available in a fund to pay settlements and judgements. The VICP is self funded by these taxes and there is no government money that goes into it.
The VICP Is Intended to Make Life Easier for Everyone Involved
The procedure is what makes the VICP an easier experience for both the claimants and the companies. In fact, the companies are not a part of the proceedings for any VICP claims. It is the government that takes on the role of the defendant since it is the government that is the adminsitrator of the VICP.
It is possible to receive compensation from the VICP based on the written record of your case alone without going to a hearing. Allow us to explain how the VICP works so you can understand why it can be so simple to be paid for your claim.
The VICP Claim Process
When you have suffered an injury from a vaccination, you and your lawyer will draft a claim. This will include documentation of your injury. You will attempt to make a persuasive claim, knowing that the strength of your initial claim can lead to the settlement of your case or can cause the government to ask to hear more. The more persuasive your complaint is, the stronger the chance that there will be no need for a hearing.
When you have filed your claim, you are supposed to send one copy to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This is because the claim needs to be reviewed by the government. Technically, the claim is against HHS since it is responsible for the VICP. HHS is represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which is the agency tasked with defending the government when it has been sued.
The DOJ lawyers will review your claim and supporting documentation. They will assess the merits of your claim. If they believe your claim has merit, they will recommend that the government begin settlement negotiations with you. This will begin the settlement process and the government will make you a settlement offer.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the government will forward their legal recommendation and their arguments to a Special Master who is appointed by the Vaccine Court. Sometimes, this is a concession that the claim is compensable, and then the Special Master will decide how much compensation the claimant received. Other times, HHS recommends that the claim be denied. Then, the claimant is entitled to a hearing where they can argue their case in front of the Special Master. The government is entitled to present its side of the story why the claim should be denied.
Most VICP Cases End Up Settling
The truth is that in many cases, it is apparent from the outset that the claimant is entitled to some compensation. In fact, settlements are a common end for VICP claims. The data shows that roughly half of the claims that have been filed with the VICP since 2006 have resulted in a compensable settlement. On top of these approximately 3,300 cases that settled, another 900 resulted in a compensable concession from the government. In other words, the government did not contest liability in 60 percent of the claims that have been filed.
There have only been a little more than 300 cases since 2006 that have resulted in a hearing where the claimant was awarded compensation. The VICP does not release information regarding the number of hearings that it has held, but hearings seem to be warranted in certainly much less than in half of the cases that have been filed.
The fact that cases can be settled without a hearing does not mean that you should take a vaccine injury claim lightly. One of the reasons why these cases settle is because the government is swayed by the initial claim. While you have the right to proceed on your own without a lawyer, a vaccine injury attorney can help you make the best possible case and can increase the chances that your case can stay out of Vaccine Court and you do not end up in front of a Special Master. We can help you make your most effective case in your claim to give you the best chance to receive compensation for your vaccine-related side effects. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates can guide you through the process of filing a vaccine claim. Call them today for a complementary evaluation of your case.
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You Only Have Three Years To File Your Claim
The first step in helping yourself or a loved one after a serious vaccine related injury is to contact us for a free review of your case.