Filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a legal process that starts with submitting a petition to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which is also commonly known as the Vaccine Court. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a vaccine injury or illness, here are some important facts to know about seeking compensation in the Vaccine Court under the VICP:
1. The Vaccine Court is in Washington D.C.
The Vaccine Court is located in Washington D.C. While it may be possible to obtain a settlement under the VICP without ever setting foot in court, it is entirely possible that you (or your attorney) will need to appear in person to present your claim for financial compensation.
2. You Have Three Years to File a Claim with the Vaccine Court.
All VICP claims are subject to a statute of limitations. For non-fatal injuries, the limitations period is three years from the onset of the first symptom or manifestation of the injury (for fatal injuries, the limitations period is two years from the date of death and four years from the first symptom or manifestation). If you wait too long to file, the Vaccine Court can deny your petition without considering the merits of your claim.
3. A “Special Master” Will Preside Over Your VICP Claim.
When you file a claim under the VICP, the individual who presides over your claim will be a special master, not a judge. A special master is an official who has been appointed by the Vaccine Court to hear evidence and determine whether payment of compensation is warranted under the VICP. The special master also determines the amount of compensation to be awarded.
4. Settlements (Which are Common) are Subject to Vaccine Court Approval.
A significant portion of all VICP claims are resolved via settlement. Once the claimant and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys trying the case reach a settlement, the settlement must then be submitted to the special master for approval.
5. Hiring a Lawyer is Optional, But Highly Recommended.
When you file a VICP claim with the Vaccine Court, you have the option to hire a lawyer or to file pro se. As explained by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), “The [VICP] petition is a legal document that you can prepare yourself, or hire a lawyer to prepare and file on your behalf. Because this is a legal process, most people hire a lawyer.” Additionally, since attorneys’ fees are paid separately from claimants’ compensation awards under the VICP, it does not cost anything extra to hire a lawyer.
Should You File a Petition With the Vaccine Court?
For individuals and families who are coping with the effects of vaccine-related injuries and illnesses, securing compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program can be an important step on the road to recovery. If you would like to find out if you are eligible to file a claim under the VICP, we invite you to call 202-800-1711 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.
Leah Durant Bio
Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and the other attorneys in her firm represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.