You do not have to have a lawyer to file a vaccine injury claim. You can do it on your
own. However, since in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”) ALL ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS ARE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT, why would you want to go it alone?
If you do, the first thing you need to know is that all claims for injury resulting from
vaccination are required to be filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington,
D.C. Special rules apply, which can be found online at http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/rules-
Claims for death must be filed within two years after death, but also within four years
following the onset of the first symptom of vaccine-related injury. Claims for personal injury
must be filed within three years after the onset of the first symptoms of injury. In the official
language of the cases, “The limitations period begins at the first event objectively recognizable
as a sign of a vaccine injury by the medical profession at large.” Limited exceptions may extend the time for filing, but we like to play it safe and not rely on exceptions.
The VICP provides for compensation without proof that the vaccine caused the injury if
you, your child or loved one had any of the vaccinations listed in the Vaccine Injury Table, which
you can find at http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/table.htm. If you can provide proof
of vaccination and proof that you suffered a “Table Injury,” then you are entitled to
compensation if your injuries last at least 6 months.
You may also be entitled to compensation for injuries not on the Vaccine Injury Table.
You will need to consult with a knowledgeable attorney if you have what we call an “off-table
If you have a have a Table Injury, you do not need to retain an expert. All you need to do
is file a Petition with the Claims Court, along with all of your medical records. Upon receipt of
your claim, it will be assigned to a Special Master (the Judge of your case; there is no right to a
jury trial for VICP claims). At the same time, your claim will be assigned to a Justice Department
attorney, who will represent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the opponent
to your Petition).
The government will respond to your claim by either agreeing that you are entitled to
compensation or not. If the government agrees that you should be compensated, then you will
need to submit proof of damages. Most people who try to go it alone get stuck at this point.
Call us, we can help you.
On the other hand, if the government contests the claim, you will receive a detailed
response, usually supported by the report of an expert, saying exactly why the government
opposes compensating you. The report is a roadmap to what needs to be done to save your
claim. Every reason why you should not recover will be stated in the report. If you can get an
expert to rebut the government’s position, you may be able to convince Health and Human
Services to abandon their defense. In fact, we have had many cases where we filed our rebuttal
and the government then agreed to our claim. Call us, we may be able to help.
Compensation for vaccine injuries is limited. First, the maximum compensation for
death is $250,000. The maximum compensation for pain and suffering is also $250,000.
Compensation for medical expenses, past and future, and wage or income losses, past and
future, are also unlimited. In most cases, if there is a claim of future losses, we get the help of
an accountant or economist to quantify the losses.
Your compensation will be paid out of a trust that is funded by the drug companies
through a tax on each dose of vaccine. GENERAL TAX REVENUE IS NOT USED FOR
Besides us, there is a lot of information available on the VICP, both on government and
law firm websites. Here are a few of the ones we like best:
Lee Burdette is a partner in Burdette Law, PLLC, with offices in Seattle and North Bend, Washington. He can be reached at LeeBurdette@BurdetteLaw.org or by phone at 206-441- 5597. Lee has been in practice for over 38 years.
Kelly Burdette is also a partner at Burdette Law, PLLC. Kelly worked as a Certified Paralegal for years before undertaking the study of law as a Legal Intern (the same way Abraham Lincoln did it). Since being admitted to the Washington State Bar Association in 2006, Kelly’s practice has been focused on Vaccine Injuries. Contact her at KellyBurdette@BurdetteLaw.org or by phone at 206-441- 5597.