Vaccine Injury Compensation Guide

By: Benjamin S. Zeller

Watch NBC News Story Zeller VS. HHS
If not but for the administration of the vaccines Benjamin J. Zeller would not suffered Encephalopathy (Brain Damage)

All vaccines can cause side effects, and immunization safety is a real concern.
Controversies in this area revolve around the question of whether the risks of adverse events following immunization outweigh the benefits of saving people from tragic outcomes of common diseases.

Zeller vs. HHS/DOJ in United States Federal Claims Court show clear scientific evidence  on a final decision date July 2008, If not but for the administration of the MMR immunizations little boy Benjamin J. Zeller would not suffered neurological brain damage. Controversy exists over whether more-common disorders such as autism are caused by vaccines.

Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

In 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) went into effect to compensate individuals and families of individuals who have been injured by covered childhood vaccines.[6] The VICP was adopted in response to an earlier scare over the pertussis portion of the DPT vaccine. These claims were later generally discredited, but some U.S. lawsuits against vaccine makers won substantial awards; most makers ceased production, and the last remaining major manufacturer threatened to do so. It uses a no-fault alternative dispute resolution system for resolving vaccine injury claims. Funding for claims of harm after 1988 comes from a patient fee of 75 cents per vaccination. To win an award, a claimant must show a causal connection; if medical records show a child has one of several listed adverse effects soon after vaccination; the assumption is that it was caused by the vaccine. The proof standard is the civil-law preponderance of the evidence, showing that causation was more likely than not. Claims that are denied can be pursued in regular lawsuits, though this is rare. Some claimants are suing thimerosal makers instead of vaccine makers, filing class-action suits, or demanding monitoring for vaccinated children who do not show signs of autism.[1]

The VICP covers all vaccines listed on the Vaccine Injury Table [7] maintained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. From 1988 until 2008-01-08, 5,263 claims relating to autism, and 2,865 non-autism claims, were made to the VICP. 925 of these claims, one autism-related, were compensated, with 1,158 non-autism and 350 autism claims dismissed; awards (including attorney's fees) totaled $847 million. The VICP also applies to claims for injuries suffered before 1988; there were 4,264 of these claims of which 1,189 were compensated with awards totaling $903 million.[8]

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a passive surveillance program administered jointly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

VAERS is intended to track adverse events associated with vaccines. VAERS collects and analyzes information from reports of adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of US licensed vaccines. The program's success in tracking vaccine injuries has been questioned by some, who allege medical practitioners frequently fail to make reports.[citation needed] Others say that it may overstate possible injuries since many neurological problems in childhood may manifest at around the ages when vaccines are routinely administered.[citation needed]

Vaccine Safety Data link

The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) is comprised of databases from several organizations containing information regarding health outcomes for millions of US citizens and to enhance assessment of vaccine injuries. It was designed to allow for such things as comparisons between vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations, and for the identification of possible groups at risk for adverse events.

Vaccine court

Vaccine court is the popular term which refers to the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which administers a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims. These claims against vaccine manufacturers cannot normally be filed in state or federal civil courts, but instead must be heard in the Court of Claims, sitting without a jury. The program was established by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), passed by the United States Congress in response to a threat to the vaccine supply due to a 1980s scare over the DPT vaccine. Despite the belief of most public health officials that claims of side effects were unfounded, large jury awards had been given to some plaintiffs, most DPT vaccine makers had ceased production, and officials feared the loss of herd immunity.[1]

Some parents of children with autism spectrum disorders have attributed the disorders' onset to vaccines, often citing the mercury-based preservative thiomersal as the cause, and have demanded compensation from vaccine makers. However, the mainstream medical and scientific communities have consistently found no link between routine childhood vaccines and autism.[2]

Filing a Claim with the VICP

First, a claim must be filed by or on the behalf of the individual thought to be injured by a vaccine covered by the VICP. A claim is started by filing a legal document called a petition that is prepared by you or your lawyer to request compensation under the VICP. Anyone who files a claim is called a petitioner.

  • who was injured by the vaccine;
  • which vaccine caused the injury;
  • when the vaccine was given;
  • the city and State or country where the vaccine was given;
  • the type of injury;
  • when the first symptom of the injury appeared; and
  • how long the effects of the injury lasted.

Your claim should also include your medical records and/or other appropriate documents, the Court’s cover sheet, and the $250.00 filing fee. If you are unable to pay this fee, call (202) 357-6400 for assistance. The original claim and two copies plus a $250.00 filing fee should be sent to:

U.S. Court of Federal Claims
717 Madison Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005


Medical Records and Other Documentation
You must include certain medical records and/or other appropriate documents with the claim. If some medical records are unavailable, you must identify those records and explain why they are unavailable. The medical review and processing of the claim may be delayed if you do not include the appropriate medical records and other documents with the claim.
In order to ensure that your claim is processed in a timely manner, the VICP suggests that you include the following medical records and other documents when filing your claim with the Court and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, c/o Director, Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation.


1. Prenatal and Birth Records
  • Mother’s prenatal record
  • Delivery record
  • Birth certificate
  • Newborn hospital record including providers’ notes, and radiology/lab results
  • Any hospitalization face sheet with final diagnosis

2. Medical Records Prior to Vaccination
  • Clinic notes (such as Well Baby visits)
  • Private doctor visits
  • Growth charts/lab/radiology results
  • Consultation reports and evaluations
  • Developmental charts

3. Vaccination Record (if available)
  • Lot number
  • Manufacturer

4. Post-Injury Hospital/Emergency Treatment Records
  • Admission/discharge summaries
  • History and physical records
  • Progress notes (including doctors’/nurses’ notes)
  • Medication records
  • Lab/radiology/EEG results
  • Flow sheets (respiratory care/treatment)
  • Consultation reports and evaluations

5. Post-Injury Outpatient Records
  • History and physical records
  • Progress notes (including doctors’/nurses’ notes)
  • Medication records
  • Lab/radiology/EEG results
  • Clinic notes
  • All evaluations

6. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form (if submitted)

7. Long Term Records (that apply to your injury)
  • School records
  • Consultation reports and evaluations
  • Educational testing records
  • Psychological testing records
  • Police/ambulance records

8. Death Records (if applicable)
  • Death Certificate
  • Autopsy report (if done)
  • Autopsy slides

*Note: Number 1 may be omitted if the injured person is an adult.

Filing a Claim Outside the VICP

Most of the time, you must first file and have your claim processed with the VICP before a civil lawsuit can be filed against the vaccine company or the person who gave the vaccine. If you would like to file a civil lawsuit outside of the VICP, contact a lawyer for advice.

To File a Vaccine Injury Claim Contact:
Beverly Vesel
Telephone: (954) 771-6210

The process for filing a claim is:
1. the petitioner or petitioner’s lawyer sends one original and two copies of the claim along with the medical records, other appropriate documents and a $250 filing fee to the Court;

2. the petitioner or petitioner’s lawyer sends one copy of the claim including the medical records and other appropriate documents to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, c/o Director, Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation;

3. the Court sends one copy of the claim and medical records to the DOJ;

4. HHS reviews the medical information in the claim and this review is sent to the DOJ lawyer who represents the Secretary of Health and Human Services;

5. the DOJ lawyer reviews the legal aspects of the claim and writes a report;

6. the HHS and DOJ reviews are combined into one report that is sent to the Court and petitioner or petitioner’s lawyer;

7. the DOJ and petitioner or petitioner’s lawyer take legal action to resolve the claim;

8. a “special master” (a lawyer appointed by the judges of the Court) decides if the claim will be paid and how much will be paid for the claim;

9. if the special master decides to pay the claim, the petitioner must make a decision to accept or reject the special master’s decision in writing; and

10. the special master’s decision may be appealed to a judge of the Court by the petitioner or HHS, then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and finally, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reasons for Compensation

To be paid, you must prove that:

  • the injured person received a vaccine listed on the Vaccine Injury Table (Table); and
  • the first symptom of the injury/condition on the Table as defined in the Qualifications and Aids to Interpretation (Aids) occurred within the time period listed on the Table; or
  • the vaccine caused the injury; or
  • the vaccine caused an existing illness to get worse (significantly aggravated).
  • In addition, the Court must determine that the injury or death did not result from any other possible causes.

Types of Payments Awarded

For an injury, you may be paid:

  • a reasonable amount for past and future nonreimbursable medical, custodial care, and rehabilitation costs, and related expenses (There is no limit on the amount a person with an injury may be paid for these types of expenses. Payments are based on your vaccine injury needs.);
  • up to $250,000 for actual and projected pain and suffering;
  • lost earnings; and/or
  • reasonable lawyers’ fees and other legal costs or legal costs, not fees, of petitioners representing themselves, if your claim was filed on a reasonable basis and in good faith.

For a death, you may be paid:

  • up to $250,000 as a death benefit for the estate of the deceased; and
  • reasonable lawyers’ fees and other legal costs or legal costs, not fees, of petitioners representing themselves, if your claim was filed on a reasonable basis and in good faith.
  • Source: Health and Human Services
  • United States Court Of Federal Claims

This information reflects the current thinking of the United States Department of Health and Human Services on the topics addressed. This information is not legal advice and does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind the Department or the public. The ultimate decision about the scope of the statutes authorizing the VICP is within the authority of the United States Court of Federal Claims, which is responsible for resolving claims for compensation under the VICP.