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Rise in Vaccine Injury Payouts


The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a government program set up to pay people hurt by vaccinations, recently disbursed more than $1 million to a Louisiana nurse. An Indiana emergency-room doctor received $92,500, and a retired Pennsylvania housekeeper got $75,000 from the fund.

These patients were among dozens that have been diagnosed with "Sirva," or shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. It is a growing phenomenon for which U.S. health officials increasingly have been awarding compensation and is now being added to a no-fault system intended to expedite claims related to injuries resulting from the administration of vaccines.

Sarah Atanasoff, medical officer at the Division of Injury Compensation of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), explains that Sirva generally is caused by an injection improperly shot too high on the arm. This can injure the musculoskeletal structures of the shoulder, such as tendons, ligaments or bursa, causing sudden shoulder pain and, in certain cases, can lead to shoulder surgery.

The government says Sirva symptoms include "severe persistent shoulder pain with prolonged restriction of function." Most Sirva claims are associated with the flu vaccine since that is by far the most commonly administered vaccine covered by the program, Dr. Atanasoff says. But, any vaccine administered in the arm can cause Sirva, including measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and hepatitis vaccines.

Since 2011, the government has paid about $18 million to 112 Sirva victims, from which more than half were disbursed in the past year. This rise can be attributed to the growing number of immunizations as well as an increased awareness of Sirva, partially due to attorneys devoted to vaccine-related claims.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a trust that was set up in 1988 to shield vaccine manufacturers from liability. It is funded by a small surcharge on vaccines. Since 1988, some $3.2 billion has been paid for a range of injuries related to vaccinations, including Guillain Barre Syndrome, arthritis, encephalitis, polio and even death, according to HRSA.

Claims against vaccine manufacturers cannot normally be filed in state or federal civil courts, but are instead heard by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Office of Special Masters, which has no jury. This way, the government says, drug companies will not be dissuaded from making vaccines and people will not be dissuaded from receiving them.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program also pays for reasonable attorney's fees for claimants, so injured people do not have to pay their attorneys out of the money they are awarded in damages for their injuries.

Read the full story here.

At Faraci Lange, we have experience in analyzing, preparing and filing vaccine claims for injured people. These claims, while outside the traditional tort system, require the collection and preparation of voluminous documentation that can include all of an injured party's medical records, employment information and tax records along with the identification and selection of qualified expert witnesses on issues ranging from the diagnosis of vaccine-related injuries (like Guillain Barre Syndrome, anaphylaxis, encephalopathy, chronic arthritis and death), the causal connection between the vaccination and a given injury and the economic impact of a vaccine injury.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a vaccine or believe that you may have been, please contact Kathryn Lee Bruns at (888) 997-4110 or click here to email her for a free legal consultation.

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