NVIC’s co-founders worked with Congress on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which acknowledged that vaccine injuries and deaths are real and that the vaccine injured and their families should be financially supported and that vaccine safety protections were needed in the mass vaccination system.
The law preserved the right for vaccine injured persons to bring a lawsuit in the court system if federal compensation is denied or is not sufficient. By 2010, the U.S. Court of Claims had awarded nearly $2 billion dollars to vaccine victims for their catastrophic vaccine injuries, although two out of three applicants have been denied compensation. We invite you to use the links below to understand the law, injury claims process and more.
- The Original Law 1986- PL-99-660
- The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Website
- Omnibus Autism Proceeding
- NVIC Supreme Court Amicus Brief – Brueswitz vs. Wyeth 2010
What Is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL-99-660) enacted by Congress to institute vaccine safety reforms in the U.S. mass vaccination system and to create a federal no-fault, non-adversarial alternative to suing vaccine manufacturers and providers in civil court. The law also contained requirements for doctors to (1) give parents vaccine benefit and risk information before vaccination; (2) report serious health problems, injuries, hospitalizations and deaths following vaccination to a centralized federally operated Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS); (3) write down serious health problems following vaccination in the individual’s permanent medical record; and (4) keep a permanent record of vaccinations given, including manufacturer’s names and lots numbers.
The VICP is administered jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the Court), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and is located in the HRSA Healthcare Systems Bureau. Covered vaccines and compensable injuries are described on the “Vaccine Injury Table” and NVIC has also created the Ask 8 webpage to assist consumers in recognizing vaccine reactions.
Federal vaccine injury compensation awarded under the 1986 law was divided into two parts: (1) compensation for injuries or deaths that occurred before October 1, 1988 (no matter how long ago the injury occurred) for which the injured individual could choose to pursue a lawsuit without restrictions but the claim would have had to have been filed in the VICP by January 31, 1991; and (2) Injuries or deaths occurring after October 1, 1988.
If a vaccine injury or death occurred after October 1, 1988, the injured person is required to apply for federal compensation before pursuing a lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer or vaccine provider in civil court. If the U.S. Court of Claims awards compensation to the vaccine injured person:
- The VICP will offer to pay up to $250,000 for a vaccine associated death.
- The VICP will offer to pay for all past and future unreimbursed medical expenses, custodial and nursing home care; and up to $250,000 pain and suffering as well as loss of earned income.
- If an individual rejects the award or is denied compensation, a lawsuit may be filed in civil court but with certain restrictions.
- Claims must be filed within 24 months of a death and 36 months of an injury.
The Claims Process: An individual claiming a vaccine-related injury or death files a petition for compensation with the Court and may be represented by an attorney. The Secretary of HHS is named as the Respondent. An HHS physician reviews the petition to determine whether it meets the medical and VICP legal criteria for compensation. This recommendation is provided to the Court through a Respondent’s report filed by the DOJ.
The HHS position is presented by an attorney from the DOJ in hearings before a “Special Master,” who makes the decision for compensation under the VICP. A decision may be appealed to the Court, then to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court. If a case is found eligible for compensation, the amount of the award is usually negotiated between the DOJ and the petitioner’s attorneys. If the attorneys can’t agree, the case is scheduled for a hearing for the special master to assess the amount of compensation.
Compensable claims, and even most claims found to be non-compensable, are awarded reimbursement for attorney’s fees and costs. A petitioner may file a claim in civil court against the vaccine company and/or the vaccine administrator only after first filing a claim under the VICP and then rejecting the decision of the Court. It can take two to 10 years to resolve vaccine injury claims in the VICP.
The VICP is funded by a surcharge on all doses of vaccines recommended by the CDC for “universal use” by all children. Monies from the surcharge are placed in a Trust Fund maintained by the government for use to pay vaccine victims. (By 2009, nearly $2 billion had been awarded to vaccine victims even though two out of three plaintiffs are denied compensation and there was a nearly $3 billion surplus in the VICP Trust Fund).
All suspected vaccine reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) operated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Health care providers are required by law to report reactions. If the doctor will not report the reaction, NVIC will provide you with the forms so you can report the reaction.
Where can I get more information about the VICP and how do I file a claim?
For more information, including information about restrictions that apply to filing a petition, visit the VICP or call them at 1-800-338-2382 FREE. Information on the Rules of the Court and how to file a claim can be found at the Court’s website, or by phone at (202) 357-6400. It is advisable to obtain the services of an attorney when filing a injury compensation claim. The Court also maintains a list of attorneys experienced in bringing vaccine injury claims. NVIC, as a public service provides a place for your vaccine injury stories on our International Memorial for Vaccine Victims.
My child has been diagnosed with autism and I believe it was due to a vaccine injury and I want to file a claim. What should I do?
The over 5,000 vaccine injury claims for regressive autism following vaccination that were filed with the VICP beginning in 2001 were grouped together and referred to as Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) in 2002. By March of 2010 these cases had been dismissed. For more information on the OAP, please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.
The VICP has, in the past, awarded compensation to children who suffered a brain inflammation/encephalopathy after receiving DPT or DTaP vaccine and suffered permanent brain damage, including autism. It is known that awards for vaccine injuries resulting in a total health outcome of autism have been made as recently as 2010 and 2012. These awards were generally based on a primary injury like brain encephalopathy that may have led to a secondary condition such as autism. In 2013 the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program will stop listing autism and non-autism claims on their website.
Successfully compensated claims where autism is the total health outcome appear to depend on the primary injury being other than autism. If you are considering filing a vaccine injury claim that involves autism as an outcome, it is advisable to seek legal advice from an attorney with experience in the VICP claims process and the successful compensation of such claims. The Court maintains a list of attorneys experienced in bringing vaccine injury claims, however this list does not provide information on the success of these attorneys in obtaining compensation for their clients.
For more information, including information about restrictions that apply to filing a petition, visit the VICP or call them at 1-800-338-2382 FREE. Information on the Rules of the Court and how to file a claim can be found at the Court’s website, or by phone at (202) 357-6400. It is advisable to obtain the services of an attorney when filing a injury compensation claim. NVIC, as a public service provides a place for your vaccine injury stories on our International Memorial for Vaccine Victims.
Where do I find an attorney experienced with filing a claim with the VICP?
The VICP maintains a list of attorneys experienced in bringing vaccine injury claims. George Washington University run a pro bono clinic, however, please note that students serve as the attorney (with supervision).
NVIC Statements on the VICP (1999-2008):
- The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Failed Experiment in Tort Reform?
Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, November 18, 2008 by Barbara Loe Fisher,
- Vaccine Safety Research Priorities: Engaging the Public.
National Vaccine Advisory Committee Vaccine Safety Working Group, April 11, 2008 by Barbara Loe Fisher,
- NVIC Asks For Simple Justice For Vaccine Injured Children
Press Release, September 27, 2001
- Compensating Vaccine Injuries: Are Reforms Needed?
Congressional Testimony, September 28, 1999
MEDIA REPORTS About the VICP:
- Vaccine case draws new attention to autism debate CNN-TV News (March 7, 2008)
- Vaccine Injury Claims Face Grueling Fight Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2004
- Chaos Theory–Mystery of Unintended Consequences Affects Your Civil Liberties by John Hanchette
Niagara Falls Reporter, January 28, 2002
- Autism & Vaccines: U.S. Court of Claims