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National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, vaccination

Conference to Discuss Developments in Vaccine Injury Compensation

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The U.S. Court of Federal Claims

On November 17, our nation’s capital will play host to even more lawyers than usual.

The reason is the 27th Annual U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judicial Conference. Lawyers from around the country will debate issues facing the Court, which handles monetary claims made against the U.S. government. The topics are diverse, ranging from the evolving concept of “property” to military pay and disability claims.

One panel will delve into how damages from harm caused by vaccines are calculated. Recent developments in the space have challenged traditional models.

Consider the case of Hayley Nicole Graves, an infant who experienced a rare but serious side effect from a pneumococcal vaccination. Within two days, she experienced repeated seizures and was taken to the hospital. Despite doctors’ best efforts, she died several weeks later.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that Graves’ parents were entitled to compensation under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and awarded them $250,000. But the Court also had to decide how much to award for suffering and emotional damages. Initially, the special master — the adjunct carrying out the court’s orders — settled on $60,000 in damages. A later court review, however, changed that amount to $250,000.

The money for this award came from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was created in 1988. The Program, provides payouts to victims who suffer from rare but serious side effects from vaccinations. Funding for the program comes from a 75 cent excise tax on each vaccine produced.

Patients experiencing serious side effect from a vaccination must follow several steps to qualify for compensation.

First, they must have experienced symptoms for at least six months or have required hospitalization and surgical intervention. Second, patients must file a claim with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims within three years of their first symptom. Their claim is then adjudicated by Special Masters from the Court.

The Compensation Program was created to protect patients as well as drug manufacturers. Before 1988, a patient injured by a vaccine had to go through the long and expensive process of suing the manufacturer directly to get any form of compensation. As a result, manufacturers faced the threat of costly lawsuits, which diminished the incentive to develop vaccines for the general public.

A decline in vaccine research and development would have negative consequences for society at large, as vaccines are safe and effective ways to prevent disease in most people. The Vaccine Program offered a way to make whole those injured by vaccines without putting the health of the rest of the population at risk.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program covers a number of vaccinations. For the most up to date list, see the vaccine injury compensation table on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

It will be interesting to see how the legal scholars in attendance at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judicial Conference this November address these and other important areas of vaccine law. It’s important that they continue to provide opportunities for those harmed by vaccines to seek adequate compensation for their injuries.


If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact us today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.

About Leah Durant

Leah Durant is a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney who specializes in vaccine injury claims covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These cases are filed before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (more commonly known as the “vaccine court”) in Washington, DC, where she has been admitted to practice since 2008. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Leah Durant is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. Leah Durant’s legal practice concentrates on litigating complex vaccine injury and medical related cases. She has an extensive legal background and has experience representing individuals with complex medical claims.


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