Vaccinations are incredibly important to the health and safety of the human population. In fact, vaccinating one’s child is one of the most critical things that a parent can do to protect them and others from many diseases. However, as with any medication or injection, vaccinations do come with some slight risks of Maryland pharmacy errors and injuries or even death.
Understanding the risks and the importance of vaccinations, Congress enacted the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986 so that those affected by vaccine-related injuries or the vaccine-related death of a loved one can petition to receive compensation for the tragic incident. Vaccine injury claims can only be litigated through this system, administered by the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In the 43 years since the system began, $4.2 billion in compensation has been awarded to claimants.
There are two ways to qualify for compensation under the program. The first, and easier, way is to establish an injury listed on the Vaccine Act’s injury table that occurred within a designated period after the vaccine was received. If this can be shown, causation is presumed, and compensation is awarded. Injuries on the table include anaphylaxis, chronic arthritis, shoulder injuries, and paralytic polio.
The second way to qualify for compensation is by claiming an injury not listed in the injury table. To successfully claim this, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the vaccine actually and directly caused the injury. This evidence must be more than a temporal connection; the fact that the injury happened shortly after the vaccine was administered is not enough in these cases. Since this evidentiary standard is so high, this type of case is more difficult to pursue successfully.
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, considered one of the latter cases, in which the parents of a deceased infant attempted to recover compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
According to the court’s written opinion, the infant, although premature, was healthy at the time that he received the vaccinations. That evening, however, the infant ran a fever, which continued through to the next day. Early the next afternoon, his mother found him unresponsive on his right side, although he had been placed on his back, and called 911. Unfortunately, efforts to resuscitate the infant were unsuccessful, and he was soon pronounced dead. His cause of death was identified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). His parents sought compensation for a vaccine-related injury, although SIDS is not on the injury table. Although the infant’s death was undeniably tragic, the court ultimately found that the infant’s parents had not proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the vaccines caused his death. While the evidence presented showed that the vaccine was a possible or plausible cause of death, the burden for non-table cases is much higher, and the claimants were denied compensation.
Have You or a Loved One Suffered Vaccine-Related Injuries?
Satisfying the evidentiary burden can be difficult in vaccine injury cases, especially while recovering from the injury or mourning the death of a loved one. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, today. Our attorneys can assist you with vaccine-related cases, as well as other Maryland pharmacy error claims. We understand the complicated legal barriers to receiving compensation and will handle your case with care and diligence. To learn more, call us today at 800-654-1949.