Can You Sue for Vaccine Injury?

Posted in Medical Malpractice on October 11, 2018

Vaccines are a crucial staple of modern medicine. Vaccinations help prevent the outbreak of diseases that can cause permanent harm, even fatalities, and some vaccines have helped all but eliminate many diseases in America. Unfortunately, the potential exists for some vaccines to cause injuries, and some physicians and other healthcare professionals may cause injuries while administering vaccinations.

If you or a loved one suffers an injury or develops an illness from a vaccination, it’s important to speak with a skilled Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer to know your rights and legal options. Some recovery programs are in place to compensate victims of vaccination injuries while still encouraging vaccine producers to contribute to the overall health of the nation.

Vaccine Injuries in the U.S.

During the 1980s, a rash of lawsuits over vaccination injuries deterred many pharmaceutical manufacturers from developing and improving their vaccines out of fear of legal backlash. Congress responded to this issue by creating the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 1988 and establishing guidelines for the handling and administering of vaccines. The VICP established minimum requirements for vaccine supplies throughout the United States to stabilize vaccine costs. The VICP also provides a forum for individuals who suffer injuries from vaccines to air their grievances and secure compensation for their losses.

The establishment of VICP led to a dramatic decrease in the number of vaccine injury lawsuits in the country and encouraged vaccine producers to continue developing better quality vaccines for a wider range of preventable illnesses. Today, in the rare event that a vaccine causes an injury, victims can use the VICP for a streamlined means of securing compensation for their damages. This affords victims the ability to recover their losses after these injuries without discouraging vaccine producers from developing effective vaccines due to the threat of civil liability.

Filing a VICP Claim

To succeed with a VICP claim, you will need to prove your eligibility. First, you’ll need to prove that the program covers the vaccine that caused your injury. Your claim must involve one or more of the covered vaccines, including:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP or DTaP)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Polio (OPV or IPV)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)
  • Hemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza

The program may add new vaccines for other conditions to the list as they become available. Once a claimant confirms that the vaccine that caused his or her injury is on this list, the claimant must prove that the vaccine caused the harm. The effects must have lasted for at least six months following the injection and resulted in hospitalization, surgery, or death. Claimants may also file if a vaccine aggravated an existing medical condition, illness, or injury.

Compensation from VICP

The VICP will reimburse an approved claimant for the medical expenses resulting from a vaccine injury as well as up to $250,000 in pain and suffering compensation. Claimed medical expenses include the costs of past and future treatment necessary after a vaccine injury. Claimants may also receive compensation for lost income if a vaccine injury caused them to miss work. They may also receive reimbursement for their legal fees.

The reason this system exists is because vaccine injuries are so rare that a lawsuit could jeopardize access to a vaccine that is completely safe to the vast majority of other people. Undiscovered allergies and medical conditions, individual reactions to vaccines, and other one-off factors should not deter the vaccine industry from providing potentially lifesaving medications to patients all over the country. In the rare event a vaccine injury does occur, you can consult with a personal injury attorney about navigating the VICP and the different types of compensation you could expect from a successful claim.