Why You Need a Lawyer to Represent You in Your Vaccine Injury Claim
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
If believe that your child has been harmed by a vaccine injury, you normally cannot simply file a lawsuit with your local district court, as you can with almost any other personal injury or defective drug claim. Instead, you must comply with special federal procedures for vaccine injury claims. This process is typically inconvenient, complex and uncertain for claimants who attempt to navigate the bureaucratic maze without the assistance of an experienced vaccine injury attorney.
How Vaccines Work
A vaccine is designed to boost your child’s immune system against a particular virus by injecting a dead or weakened sample of that very virus into your child’s body. In its dead or weakened state, your child’s immune system is easily able to handle the virus, and in the process it “learns” how to defend your child’s body against that particular virus, thereby resulting in long-term immunity.
Typical Injury Claims
If your child’s immune system is particularly vulnerable at the time that the vaccine is given, his or her immune system might not be able to handle the virus even in its weakened state. If this happens, the vaccine will cause the very disease that it is designed to immunize against – for example, your child might contract chickenpox from a chickenpox vaccine.
A successful vaccine injury claim can be based on a variety of diseases and conditions that include but are not necessarily limited to the disease that the virus was designed to defend against including allergic reactions, brachial neuritis, encephalopathy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, among many others.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
The VICP was established by the federal government and is designed to resolve all vaccine injury claims. Some special features of the VICP claim process include:
- There is only one court in which you can file a claim – the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. If this court denies your claim you may be able to appeal the denial to a state or federal court.
- With a vaccine injury claim, you don’t need to prove that any particular party was at fault in order to win. All you have to do is prove that the vaccine caused the injury. Proving even this much can be quite tricky, however.
- The statute of limitations deadline for filing a claim is three years after the first symptoms appear. After that, you are forever barred from filing a claim with any court.
- Since the VICP is funded by a surcharge on every vaccine that is administered anywhere in the United States, as long as you win your claim you need not worry that the defendant will be unable to pay.
- You may claim for medical bills (past, present and future), legal expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering. If your child died as a result of a vaccine, you may file your own claim, but your compensation will be limited to $250,000.
The VICP is notorious for stonewalling legitimate claimants and for unfairly denying claims Although you don’t have to be represented by a lawyer, if your claim is denied because you failed to secure competent legal representation, you will have to start the process all over again by appealing your claim to a state or federal court in order to win. Although autism-related vaccine injury claims are common, these claims are almost always denied by the VICP.
Pursuing a vaccine injury claim without a lawyer is likely to result in a huge waste of time and money on your part. Our personal injury lawyer search function can help you locate a vaccine injury lawyer near you.