If you have been injured by a vaccine, you may be eligible for compensation from a fund called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP is funded by a tax on each dose of an administered vaccine and exists to both make sure that people can be compensated for their injuries while shielding vaccine makers from legal liability. Many people do not know about the VICP or how it works. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about the VICP.
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What Chance Do I Have of Obtaining Compensation?
As attorneys, we could never give you a percentage chance of receiving compensation. The rules that we must follow do not allow for that. What we can do is cite statistics for you about previous vaccine injury claims that were filed. The federal government does maintain a database of the disposition of all of the cases that were filed with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
From 2006 to 2018, there have been a total of just over 7,000 claims for compensation that were filed with the VICP. Almost 5,000 of these cases resulted in some form of compensation for the person filing the claim. The rate of cases that result in compensation is right around 70 percent.
Of course, whether or not you actually receive compensation depends on the facts of your particular case. Some claims may be stronger than others, but most of the claims filed with the VICP lead to compensation.
Why Do I Need a Vaccine Injury Lawyer?
You may be wondering why you need a lawyer to help you if the government pays out most claims made to the VICP. What we did not tell you is how the claims ultimately get decided. We will explain some more below, but there is an entire process that must be followed in order to become eligible for compensation. If you fail to follow all of the necessary steps, you may not be able to be paid by the government for your injuries.
You still need to present the strongest possible claim to the VICP. The strength of your file will determine whether you get paid and how much you receive. People may not understand how to navigate the system. The VICP is its own specialized system that is more easily navigated by those who have experience with it. While there is no requirement to have an attorney, a vaccine injury lawyer can put you in a stronger position by assisting you with your claim.
Who Is Able to File a Claim with the VICP?
You can file a claim on behalf of yourself if you were injured by a covered vaccine. Even though the VICP covers vaccines that are given to children, as an adult, you may be taking the same vaccines. You may also file a claim if you are the parent or guardian of a child that was hurt by a vaccine. If someone has died from a vaccine, the legal representative may file a claim on behalf of the estate.
Who Decides that My Claim Has Merit?
When you file a claim with the VICP, it will first go to government attorneys. They will thoroughly review your file and all of the supporting documentation. They will make the first determination whether to try to settle with you or to contest your claim.
If the government does not agree to your claim, the case will proceed to a special Vaccine Court. This is a more informal setting within the federal court system. There is an administrative law judge within the Vaccine Court who will then have the responsibility for deciding whether you should be compensated. They may decide to have a hearing in your case or they can even oversee further settlement negotiations between you and the government.
If the Vaccine Court decides that your claim does not have merit, they will issue a decision denying your claim. This is not the end of the line for your efforts to obtain compensation as you have the right to appeal this decision.
What is the Standard of Proof for a Vaccine Injury Case?
The good news is that the things that you know about a criminal case do not apply to a vaccine injury case. You are probably familiar with the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is not what you have to show to obtain compensation for a claim to the VICP. What you will need to prove is that it was “more likely than not” that the vaccine caused the injury.
What Happens When the Government Decides that My Claim Has Merit?
There are several possibilities for what may happen after your claim is meritorious. The government may immediately make a proposal for a settlement for you. It may be that the proposal is sufficient and you can sign a settlement agreement right away. However, the government does not always make a sufficient offer right off the bat. In those cases, it will be necessary to negotiate a better offer, and this is where a vaccine injury lawyer can help.
Another possibility is that the government may make a compensable concession. This means that they will concede that you deserve a payment but the amount will be determined later. The court may determine the amount of money that the claimant deserves.
If you have been injured by a vaccine, the Vaccine Injury Help Center can help you file a claim for compensation. Contact us today to schedule your free initial compensation.