FAQ About Filing a Vaccine Injury Claim
Do I Need an Attorney?We advise that you DO NOT attempt to represent yourself in the National Vaccine Compensation Program. Hiring a vaccine attorney comes at no cost to you because the Court pays for all legal fees. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is designed to be non-adversarial and non-litigious. However, it’s often a very difficult, hard-fought, and legalistic process involving complicated legal, medical, and factual issues. You need an attorney who knows how to litigate vaccine cases because these are lawsuits.
What are the Legal Costs and Fees?There should be NO cost to file a claim. MCT Law does not charge its clients to represent them in cases brought under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. We do not take any percentage or contingency fees from your financial award. We are paid separately by the Court of Federal Claims at the conclusion of the case. As a service to our clients, our Firm covers the costs of litigating the case, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, travel expenses, etc. Instead, these costs are directly reimbursed to us by the Court at the conclusion of the case.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer in My State?No. The Vaccine Court is located in Washington, DC and covers all vaccine injury claims in the United States. This is not a “local” case that a local personal injury lawyer should handle. Our attorneys are ready to represent you no matter where you live in the United States and its territories. Our attorneys come to you at or near your home so there is no need for you to travel to our offices in Washington, DC, Sarasota, FL, or Seattle, WA.
What Kind of Information Do We Need to Start Building a Case?The first thing we ask is for a copy of all the relevant medical records (if you have copies), and also a list of every doctor or hospital where you’ve received treatment for your vaccine injury. We use this list to gather the remaining medical records on file at each location. We are then required to turn over a copy of your complete and comprehensive medical records to the Court.
How Do You File a Claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?Your claim is initiated by filing a petition with the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Once the petition is filed, a Special Master is assigned to the case. A Special Master is a specialized judge that handles only vaccine injury claims. The Special Master decides the outcome of the case instead of a jury.
What Are the Legal Procedures and What Can I Expect at Trial?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acts as the defendant in these cases. It is represented by Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys throughout the process.
HHS reviews your petition and decides whether to dispute your claim that the vaccine caused the injury or to concede that the vaccine was responsible. If HHS concedes that the vaccine did cause the injury, the next step is to determine the value of the damages. However, if this cannot be agreed on, then there is a trial (called a hearing) on the topic of damages before the Special Master.
If HHS does not concede, there is an initial trial (called a hearing) on the issue of whether the vaccine caused the injury. The trial is typically held at the nearest federal courthouse to where you live.
You may testify and so may some of your family or friends. It may be helpful to have your doctors testify. An expert physician hired on your behalf will testify about how the vaccine caused the injury. Then, at least one Health and Human Services expert witness will likely testify as to why the vaccine did not cause the injury. Following this, the Special Master will decide whether the vaccine caused the injury. If the Special Master decides in your favor, then we go on to the issue of damages. If we cannot agree with HHS as to the value of the damages, there will be a second trial to determine the amount of the compensation.
How Long Does the Entire Process Take?
This process is designed to be quicker than civil litigation. With some exceptions, it usually is. A hearing on whether the vaccine caused the injury often occurs within a year. Cases that settle can conclude in as little as a year. Other cases, despite our best efforts, can take several years.
What Type of Compensation is Usually Awarded in these Cases?
Compensation includes monetary damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Compensation paid out for pain and suffering is limited to a maximum of $250,000. There is no limit of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
Who Can File A Claim With the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
You do not need to be a citizen of the United States to file a claim. Usually, the vaccine must have been administered in the United States or one of its territories to bring a claim.
Some people who receive vaccines outside of the U.S. may be eligible for compensation. In order to be covered by the Vaccine Program when overseas, the injured person must be a U.S. citizen serving in the military or a U.S. government employee, or have been a dependent of such a citizen; or the injured person must have received a vaccine manufactured by a vaccine company located in the U.S. and returned to the U.S. within 6 months after the date of vaccination.