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Vaccine-Related Illnesses & Autism: Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Each year, more than 10 million vaccines are given to children under the age of one. Countless more older children and adults also receive vaccines annually. While immunizations are intended to keep us from getting sick, some have minor, moderate, severe or even fatal reactions to vaccines. If you, your child or someone you love has experienced a serious or fatal side effect after receiving a vaccine, you're probably wondering if you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit or other legal recourse.
National Vaccine Court
A federal law-the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986-created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), sometimes known as "vaccine court." According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
"The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims decides who will be paid...The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund provides funding for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988."
If you or a family member has been injured or died as a result of a vaccine, you cannot file a traditional medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court. Instead, your claim must be heard by the vaccine court.
The VICP publishes a vaccine injury table that lists:
- The types of vaccines that are covered
- The known injuries, disabilities, illnesses or conditions that are associated with each vaccine
- The time period following the immunization in which symptoms typically appear
If you think you have grounds for compensation, you must file a claim with the vaccine court. Your medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through the claims process.
By law, you have three years from the date symptoms first appeared to file a claim. If the individual died as a result of the vaccine, a claim must be filed within two years of the person's death and no more than four years from the date the first symptom appeared.
After your claim is filed, it will be considered by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Vaccines & Autism
There is significant disagreement about whether there is a link between vaccines and autism. In 2002, the VCIP began what is known as the Omnibus Autism Proceeding to specifically hear vaccine-related autism spectrum disorder claims.
The vaccine court has awarded money to patients who have developed autism following a vaccination. However, even when the government has awarded compensation, it has not always concluded that the vaccine caused the autism.
Parents of children who have developed autism following an immunization will want to speak to a medical malpractice attorney who has experience handling vaccine-related autism cases.
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