What Is Vaccine Injury Compensation?
As the vaccine debate seems to have hit a fever pitch in the past couple years, it's actually been an ongoing national conversation since the 70's and 80's. In fact, there was so much litigation surrounding claims of vaccine injuries back then that Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986.
The goal of the NCVIA was to limit the liability for vaccine injury cases by restricting the types of claims that could be brought and the time in which they could be brought. Two years later, a trust fund was created to compensate vaccine-related injuries or deaths from covered vaccines. So how does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) work?
Out of Court
Instead of going to court and suing over possible vaccine-related injuries, individuals can file claims in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In order to be compensated, you must prove:
- An injury listed on the Vaccine Injury Tableoccurred.
- The injury occurred within an "appropriate time interval following immunization."
- The injury lasted longer than six months after the vaccine was given or resulted in a hospital stay and surgery.
- The vaccine caused the injury or the condition got worse after the vaccination.
Compensation from the VICP trust fund is capped at $250,000.
Out of Time?
There are few important limitations to the VICP claims process. First, only the injured party, the injured party's parents or legal guardians, or the legal representative of a deceased individual may file claims.
Second, the claim must be filed in time. According to the VICP website, "You must file your claim within 3 years after the first symptom of the vaccine injury or within 2 years of a death and 4 years after the start of the first symptom of the vaccine injury that resulted in the death." And courts have been clear that the statute of limitations for vaccine injury claims begins to run at the first symptom, not the first diagnosis.
- What You Need to Know About the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- A Vaccine Injury Case Succeeds at the Federal Circuit (FindLaw's Federal Circuit)
- Vaccine Exemptions: Some State Laws (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Is It Legal to Not Vaccinate Your Kids? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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