The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), often known as the "Vaccine Court", is a distinctive venue under the United States Court of Federal Claims. This court, established in 1986, is designed to offer compensation for injuries linked to vaccines, thus protecting vaccine manufacturers from potentially crippling liability claims while ensuring that individuals who experience adverse effects have a viable route for seeking compensation.
One of the common vaccine-related injuries compensated under the VICP is a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). In this blog, we will go through the process of seeking compensation for a SIRVA in the Vaccine Court. Please keep in mind that this information is current up to June 2023, and it is always advisable to consult with an attorney before starting any litigation process.
Step 1: Understand what SIRVA: Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration
It typically includes symptoms such as severe, persistent pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the area of the shoulder where the injection was given within 48 hours of administration of the vaccine.
Step 2: Document your Injury
In the event of a shoulder injury post-vaccination, it is important to document everything meticulously. This includes symptoms, medical visits, medical bills, lost income, and any other impact on your daily life. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to establish your case in court. You must be able to prove symptoms occurred within 48 hours of administration of the vaccine and persisted for at least six months after administration of the vaccine.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention
If you suspect you have SIRVA, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. This is not only for your health but also because the doctor's reports and findings will be vital evidence in your case.
Step 4: Consult with a Vaccine Injury Lawyer
It is essential to engage with an attorney experienced with handling vaccine injury cases. This legal arena is specialized, and you need a lawyer with knowledge and experience with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/about
Your lawyer will review your case, gather necessary documents, and advise you on the next steps.
Step 5: File a Petition
If you have a compensable case, your lawyer will prepare and file a Petition with the Vaccine Court. The Petition should include all necessary details about your injury including how it links to the vaccine administration. It must also clearly show that the SIRVA has significantly impacted your life.
Step 6: Government's Review
Once the Petition is filed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, represented by lawyers from the Department of Justice, will review your claim. Often, if HHS agrees that your SIRVA injury was caused by a vaccine on the vaccine table, then your lawyer will be able to negotiate a settlement with HHS. If HHS does not think your SIRVA injury was caused by the vaccine, then your lawyer may file a brief with the Court or proceed to a hearing. In these circumstances, a Special Master will decide if the vaccine caused your injury.
Step 7: Court Hearing and Decision
Your case may proceed to a hearing, where a Special Master will hear and receive evidence presented by your lawyer. This could include your testimony, testimony from your doctors, medical records, and testimony from experts. Based on the evidence provided, the Special Master will decide on the validity of your claim and the amount of compensation you should receive.
Step 8: Receiving Compensation
If the Court rules in your favor, the compensation will cover medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Remember, the program does not provide punitive damages. Further, there is a $250,000 cap for pain and suffering damages.
While this process may seem daunting, it is designed to help individuals receive the compensation they deserve in the event of a vaccine-related injury. Also, your legal fees are paid by the Vaccine Court, not from your award or settlement.
If you or a loved one believe you have a SIRVA injury, reach out to an experience vaccine law firm like Wilson Law, P.A.