Although the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) is supposed to provide people a simple and easy way to obtain compensation for injuries they suffer as a result of complications caused by vaccines, it's not unusual for claims to be denied. In fact, some people claim the system has become more adversarial and inefficient than it was designed to be. However, having a claim denied by the NVICP doesn't mean the end of the road. Here are a few options available to you if are not approved for compensation.
Appeal to Federal Court
When you file a claim with the NVICP, the case eventually makes it way to the U.S. Department of Justice who submits a report to a court-appointed special master who ultimately decides to approve or deny the petition for compensation. Although the claim doesn't actually go through the court system, you can appeal if it's denied.
Typically, you must first submit a request to have the special master's decision reviewed by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. This request must be submitted within 30 days after the decision in the case is filed. Since the special master's decision is considered final, failure to file a request in the specified time period may result in the case being permanently closed.
If the Federal Claims court rules also denies your claim, you can appeal that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and then onto the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Be aware that litigating appeals will cost a significant amount of time and money. Although the NVICP does compensate claimants for legal fees, the exact amount may vary depending on the circumstances.
Sue the Manufacturer Directly
The NVICP was developed to protect manufacturers from lawsuits filed by people hurt by the vaccines they created. In most cases, the NVICP is the only avenue people have to get compensated for their injuries. However, this is not always the case.
Not all manufacturers or vaccines are covered by the NVICP. In fact, only vaccines that are recommended by the Center for Disease Control as part of the childhood vaccine schedule and subjected to an excise tax are covered. Any manufacturer or vaccine that doesn't fit this requirement may be subjected to a civil lawsuit.
The NVICP has a vaccine table that lists all the medications covered under the program. If the vaccine given to you or your loved is not on the table, then you may want to talk to a personal injury attorney about collecting compensation directly from the manufacturer.
Sue the Healthcare Provider
A third option for collecting compensation for injuries caused by vaccines is to sue the healthcare provider for medical malpractice. However, to succeed with this type of case, you must prove the medical professional failed in his or her duties in some way that led to you or your loved one being injured by the vaccine. For example, if your doctor knew or should have known your child was allergic to an ingredient in a specific vaccine but administered it anyway, you could hold him or her liable for medical problems that result.
Winning a medical malpractice lawsuit involving vaccines can be challenging because you have to prove the healthcare provider did something wrong (or failed to take appropriate action) and the vaccine was the source of the adverse reaction. Both of these can be hard to do and may require testimony from experts in the field, which may increase the cost of litigation.
Even if your NVICP claim was denied, there may be other ways to obtain compensation for vaccine injuries. Contact an attorney at a firm like R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C. to discuss your case and available options.