Minneapolis Medical Malpractice and Civil Litigation Attorney, Kathleen Loucks, discusses the process in filing a claim for a vaccine injury.
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Well, the process is complex. The process starts when you file a petition, which is a legal document that starts the process in vaccine court. And the petition essentially has basic information about who you are, where you live, where you received the vaccine, the lot number, the manufacturer. It has information about when you had your onset of symptoms, how long your symptoms lasted, and what your resulting injuries are. That’s the start of the process.
Now, the process can take, on average, anywhere from two to three years, but it varies wildly for a number of reasons. The first of those reasons is whether or not your injury is a table or non-table injury, and that’s really important because the Department of Health and Human Services has the table in which they have certain vaccines. So, if you received a vaccine and you have a resulting injury within a certain time period, there’s a presumed causal relationship.
And so if you fall within the table, then your case will not take as long as if it’s an off-the-table one. Another factor is if you have doctors who are willing to take a stand, so to speak, and say “This person has an injury and it’s caused by a vaccine.” Some doctors aren’t willing to do that.
So, if your medical records and your treating providers support a causal relationship between the vaccine and your injury, if it’s a table injury, if there’s good medical literature to support the injury and the causation, then it should take less time. It doesn’t mean that you can’t file a claim, it just means that yours could then fall on the other end of the spectrum; maybe three years.
The other thing that influences how long cases take is the players that are involved. The Office of Special Masters has eight magistrate judges that handle the program. They’re hugely overloaded. Each of them have over 200 cases that they handle. And the Department of Justice represents the Department of Health and Human Services.
So, if you get a good magistrate judge and you get a good Department of Justice attorney, they’re reasonable, they’re willing to work with you, you have a table injury, these things can all combine to make your case go smooth, and it’ll be handled more quickly.