In Part 1 of our Ultimate Guide to Filing a Vaccine Injury Claim, we discussed the eligibility criteria for filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Here in Part 2, we are covering the steps involved in filing a VICP claim.
7 Steps in the VICP Claim Process
If you are eligible to file a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, it will be important to get to work on your claim promptly. There are several steps involved, and your vaccine injury lawyer will need as much time as possible to prepare your claim and argue for just compensation on your behalf. Generally speaking, once you determine you are eligible, there are seven steps involved in seeking compensation under the VICP:
1. Filing a Petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
First, your lawyer will formally initiate your claim by filing a petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (also known as the “Vaccine Court”). Located in Washington D.C., the Vaccine Court handles all claims filed under the VICP.
2. Sending a Copy of Your Petition to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
When your attorney files your petition with the Vaccine Court, he or she will also need to send a copy to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Unlike other federal benefit programs (i.e. Medicare and Social Security), filing a claim under the VICP is a litigious process. The HRSA will defend against your claim, and your attorney will need to prove that you are entitled to coverage by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
3. Proving that You are Eligible for Compensation
As your claim progresses, your attorney will work to prove that you are eligible for compensation. This will primarily involve providing evidence of your (or your loved one’s) vaccination and subsequent medical care.
4. Proving the Amount You are Entitled to Receive
In addition to proving your eligibility, your attorney will also need to prove how much you are eligible to receive. This will involve providing additional evidence which proves:
- The medical costs (past and future) associated with your (or your loved one’s) vaccine injury or illnesses;
- The loss of income (past and future) resulting from your (or your loved one’s) vaccine injury or illness; and,
- The financial value of the pain and suffering (past and future) resulting from your (or your loved one’s) vaccine injury or illness.
5. Negotiating with the Government’s Attorneys
If the evidence suggests that you are entitled to compensation under the VICP, the government’s attorneys may agree to enter into settlement negotiations. During these negotiations, your attorney will work to obtain a compensation award that provides adequate compensation for your family’s past and future losses.
6. Obtaining Settlement Approval
If a settlement is reached, then it will need to be submitted to the Vaccine Court for approval. Once the Special Master (essentially, a special type of judge) assigned to your case signs off on the settlement, then you will receive your compensation award.
7. Taking Your Claim to Court
Finally, if your claim does not settle, then your attorney will need to argue for just compensation in the Vaccine Court. Your attorney and the government’s attorneys will present the evidence at a hearing in Washington D.C.; and, at the end of the hearing, the Special Master will decide if you are entitled to compensation under the VICP.
In Part 3 of this Ultimate Guide to Filing a Vaccine Injury Claim, we will discuss how much compensation claimants can recover under the VICP with the help of an experienced vaccine injury lawyer.
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 her staff 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.