In 1986, the VICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program) was established to help compensate vaccine recipients and their families who have been severely injured as a result of adverse reactions to certain vaccines. When an individual believes that they, or their child, have been injured because of a vaccine, they are able to petition the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals to seek compensation. From their petition and evidence, the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services reviews the case and makes a preliminary recommendation, and then passes it on to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for adjudication. The DOJ then submits a report of their findings to the court-appointed “Special Master”, who issues a judgement for compensation or dismissal.
While the VICP was established to help compensate vaccine recipients who are injured, the VICP was also established to help protect vaccine manufactures from the risk and cost of litigation, and to ensure continued vaccine research and safety. As is the standard in the legal system, there is a statute of limitations in the VICP. Presently, the VICP requires a petition to be filed with the Vaccine Court within three years of the first sign or symptom of the claimed injury following vaccination. At first glance this rule seems simple enough, however determining the first sign or symptom of an injury is extremely difficult in some cases. This problem is especially apparent when the sign or symptom of an injury, also is a normal occurrence in our daily lives.
For example, we have represented a number of young women who have experienced premature ovarian failure or insufficiency (“POI”) in their teens and early 20s. POI is full blown menopause often causing these women to be incapable of having children. We believe, and it is supported by numerous doctors in the field, that their ovaries were affected by an adverse reaction to the Gardasil HPV vaccination, which is often given to girls at age 11 or 12. The difficulty in these cases has been that it is a normal, natural occurrence for young, teenage girls to experience irregular periods. However, irregular periods are also a symptom of POI. Therefore, whether the irregular periods were the body’s natural activity, or whether it was a sign of POI, is deemed irrelevant in these cases and they have been dismissed, based upon the current statute of limitations.
The intentions of the VICP, for both continued vaccine research and safety for those who have experienced an adverse reaction, would be better served with a statute of limitations that considers the scope of difficulties encountered while bringing a petition; such as the difficulty determining the first sign or symptom, in addition to the medical community’s delay in determining adverse reactions from vaccines. Something similar to the common tort statute of limitations, discovery rule, would be more just to those individuals. However, until there is a change in the statute of limitations, the urgency for filing a claim remains.
Am I Eligible?
If you or a loved one believe you have sustained an adverse reaction to a vaccine and want to file a claim in the VICP you must do so within 36 months of the first sign or symptom of your claimed injury. Failure to do so will result in your case being dismissed, for as we have discussed here, time is of the essence. Also of note, the legal expenses associated with your claim, including attorney services are covered under the program, so there is no financial risk involved. You can contact me by calling 608-824-9540 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns. At Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC, We listen, We care, We get results!
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