The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("Vaccine Program") is a no-fault compensation program designed to provide compensation for individuals who have suffered injuries or death as a result of the administration of certain vaccination within the United States. The Vaccine Program recognizes the reality that some vaccinations may cause injury, but it is the public's interest that people continue to receive vaccines. For that purpose, and as a compromise to end extensive potential liability to vaccine manufacturers and administrators, there is an excise tax of $0.75 per dose of vaccine purchased that is paid into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, which provides the funding for the Vaccine Program to compensate individuals for injuries or death related to covered vaccines.
In most situations, a petition must be filed with the Vaccine Program first before a civil lawsuit can be filed against the vaccine company or the person who gave the vaccine. Injured parties, parents or legal guardians of a injured child or disabled adult, and estate representatives may file the petition for compensation under the program. To be eligible for compensation under the Vaccine Program, the injured individual must have a vaccine which caused an injury or significantly aggravated an existing illness, and the injury must have lasted for more than six months after the vaccine, resulted in hospital stay and surgery, or resulted in death. An injured individual may be awarded a reasonable amount for past and future nonreimbursable medical, custodial care, and rehabilitation costs and related expenses, up to $250,000 for actual and projected pain and suffering, lost earnings and/or reasonable lawyers' fees and other legal costs. In the event that the vaccine injury resulted in death, the estate may receive up to $250,000 as a death benefit and reasonable lawyers' fees and other legal costs.
The following vaccines are included within the Vaccine Program:
- Tetanus (a/k/a Lockjaw) Toxoid-containing vaccines such as DTap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis), Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), DTP-Hib (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis combined with Haemophilus influenza type b), DT (Diphtheria, Tetanus), TD (Tetanus, Diphtheria), TT (Tetanus) and Tetanus boosters;
- Pertussis (a/k/a Whooping Cough) antigen-containing vaccines such as DTap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis), Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis), P (Pertussis), and DTP-Hib (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis with Haemophilus influenza type b);
- Measles, mumps and rubella virus-containing vaccines in any combination such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), MR (measles and rubella), M (measles), and R (rubella);
- Rubella virus-containing vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), MR (measles and rubella, and R (rubella);
- Measles virus-containing vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), MR (measles and rubella), and M (measles);
- Polio live virus-containing vaccines such as OPV (oral polio vaccine);
- Polio inactivated-virus containing vaccines such as IPV (inactivated poliovaccine);
- Hepatitis B antigen-containing vaccines (e.g. Hep B);
- Hemophilus influenza type b (polysaccharide conjugate vaccines);
- Varicella (a/k/a chicken pox) vaccine;
- Rotavirus vaccines such as Rotateq, Rota and Rotarix;
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines such as Prevnar;
- Hepatitis A vaccines (e.g. Hep A);
- Trivalent influenza vaccines (e.g. "flu" or TIV vaccines);
- Meningococcal (conjugate and polysaccharide) vaccines such as Menactra and Menomune; and
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines such as Gardasil.
- Individuals injured as a result of a H1N1 (a/k/a swine flu) vaccine may be entitled to compensation under a separate program entitled the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program.
It is important to retain a knowledgeable attorney to help protect your rights with regard to the Vaccine Program. HoganWillig has three attorneys who are admitted to practice in this specialized area of law. Retaining an attorney to prosecute your claim will cost you nothing. This is not an ordinary contingent fee arrangement, such as in a motor vehicle accident where the attorney would receive a percentage of the award or judgment. Attorneys retained to prosecute a claim in the Vaccine Program are paid by and through the Vaccine Program, so any attorney fee award is payable separate and in addition to compensation awarded to the injured individual. Whether or not the injured party is successful in the Vaccine Program, they are not responsible for any attorneys' fees. It is important to retain a knowledgeable attorney to make sure that the Vaccine Program's deadlines are complied with, including statutes of limitations (or time deadlines in which to file a petition), that the petition filed on behalf of the injured party is complete and to retain the services of an expert if necessary. Your attorney will help prosecute your entitlement to compensation under the program, and, with entitlement established, will offer evidence in support of the damages incurred allowable by statute. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a vaccine, please call HoganWillig today.