For the most part, vaccines have been a medical breakthrough for society, preventing millions worldwide from contracting diseases that spread like wildfire just a century ago. However, despite their well-known benefits, vaccines cause adverse reactions in approximately one in a million people, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.1 In order to receive compensation, the victim must file a petition with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) within its statute of limitation guidelines. One must file with the VICP instead of pursuing a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers or providers in civil court.
Eligibility for Filing with the VICP
Before filing a petition with the VICP, it is important to check if you are eligible for compensation. First, you or your child must have “received a covered vaccine and believe that you have been injured by the vaccine.”2 Legal representatives of estates of deceased persons “who received a covered vaccine and who [were] injured by the vaccine and/or whose death you believe resulted from that vaccination” may also petition. The vaccines covered by the VICP include:
- Diphtheria (e.g., DTP, DTaP, Tdap, DT, Td, TT)
- Haemophilus influenza type b polysaccharide conjugate vaccines (e.g., Hib)
- Hepatitis A (e.g., HAV)
- Hepatitis B (e.g., HBV)
- Human papillomavirus (e.g., HPV)
- Seasonal influenza (e.g., Flu)
- Measles (e.g., MMR)
- Mumps (e.g., MMR, MR, M)
- Meningococcal (e.g., MCV4, MPSV4, Men-B-FHbp, MenB-4C)
- Pertussis (e.g., DTP, DTaP, Tdap)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (e.g., PCV)
- Polio (e.g., OPV or IPV)
- Rotavirus (e.g., RV)
- Rubella (e.g., MMR, MR, R)
- Tetanus (e.g., Td)
- Varicella (e.g., VAR)3
Moreover, before filing a petition, the effects of a vaccine injury must have lasted “more than 6 months after vaccination, resulted in inpatient hospitalization and surgical intervention, or resulted in death.”2
VICP’s Statute of Limitations: Petitioning within a Narrow Window
The VICP has a strict statute of limitations for vaccine injury claims. If you or someone you love sustained was injured, you must file “within 3 years after the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of significant aggravation of the injury.”2 If someone you love has died from a vaccine injury, you must file “within 2 years of the death and within 4 years of the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of the significant aggravation of the injury from which the death resulted.”2
In terms of flexibility, the VICP does permit filing a petition “2 years from the date of the Table change for injuries or deaths that occurred up to 8 years before the Table change.” According to their website, “a Table change includes new vaccines or injuries added to the Table or other changes to the Table if the revision makes a petitioner eligible to seek compensation or significantly increases the likelihood of a petitioner obtaining compensation.”2
What about Equitable Tolling and the “Discovery Rule”?
The statute of limitations for vaccine injuries is nonnegotiable. Many attorneys have petitioned the VICP to allow equitable tolling for the 36-month deadline for filing vaccine injury petitions (see Mojica v. Johnson - Opposition4 and Smith v. HHS5). Moreover, a “discovery rule” does not apply to the VICP’s statute of limitations because healthcare professionals often discover any vaccine injuries within six months.
The emphasis here is on discovering the side effects; the VICP does not care whether your healthcare physician diagnosed the vaccine as the cause of the side effects. Therefore, it is important that you connect the dots if your doctor does not. Otherwise, you may miss the 36-month deadline for filing your vaccine injury petition to get the compensation you deserve.
Our Expert Vaccine Injury Lawyers Can Help You File a Petition
At Shannon Law Group, P.C., our attorneys are ready to help you file a petition with the VICP if you or someone you love is eligible. Please call (312) 578-9501 or fill out our contact information form, and we will provide a free no-obligation consultation to hear your concerns and questions.