In keeping with the Soloway Law Firm tradition of trying to provide legal representation to those who cannot find an attorney to help them, we proudly represent victims who suffer illness or injury from the flu vaccine. You aren’t familiar with this area of law? Well neither were we, until a local nurse was referred to the firm for representation about 10 years ago. Since that time, we have become the only law firm in Northwest Florida to develop the expertise necessary to handle these cases for persons across our area, the state of Florida and the nation who are victims of the flu vaccine.
For most people, “flu season” brings with it the need to get their annual flu vaccine. Like all vaccines, the flu vaccine is calculated to prevent persons from contracting sickness and disease resulting in suffering or death. While these vaccines certainly save lives, in very rare cases they can cause serious problems including side effects, severe allergic reactions, and causally related injuries from the medicinal serums used in the vaccine. For persons who suffer such health problems due to the flu vaccine as well as many other listed vaccines, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides financial compensation.
At the Soloway Law Firm, we have brought several successful claims for persons who were injured by the flu vaccine. We are members of the Federal Court of Claims in Washington D.C., wherein we file petitions for our clients to seek relief due to these injuries. Once we file the petition, the claim is assigned to the U.S. Department of Justice and an Assistant U.S. Attorney will defend the claim throughout the litigation process. The U.S. attorney will initially refer the petition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services medical staff, which reviews the claim to determine whether it meets the medical criteria for compensation. To date, our clients have all won their medical review, and the U.S. attorney assigned to each case has recommended to the Special Magistrate of the Court of Claims that its preliminary recommendation is favorable. Of course, we never file our petitions without medical support, and our last petition included the opinions of both a board-certified rheumatologist and board-certified orthopedic surgeon that the flu vaccine had caused the injuries complained of. Thus, it was not a surprise that the United States agreed with their medical findings, through its own medical personnel at the Department of Health and Human Services.
At this point in the process, the attorneys at the Soloway Law Firm work with the U.S. attorney to develop the petitioner’s “Life Care Plan” (LCP). The LCP is essentially an analysis of the medical and life care needs of the petitioner that, due to the injuries caused by the flu vaccine, she will need to pay for the rest of her life. Such medical care may include surgeries, doctor and nursing care, pain management and physical therapy, and prescription medication for the rest of the petitioner’s life. Other life care needs may include assistive devices (wheelchair, special beds or furniture), household help and other items to replace those things that petitioner may no longer be able to do or provide help for her to perform activities she can do only with some assistance. Rather than rely on the LCP established by the government, we retain our own Life Care Planner, often a vocational expert, to prepare a LCP customized specifically for our client.
In addition to developing an LCP to address the issue of proper compensation, we also retain an expert (usually a vocational expert or an economist) to address the matter of our client’s lost wages and loss of ability to earn wages in the future. Depending on the victim’s past relevant work, this economic loss claim may exceed $1 million if the person is unable to return to work or can return to only part-time work at a lower wage scale.
Apart from the economic loss claims noted above, a claim for pain and suffering will also exist under the VICP. However, this non-economic loss claim is capped at $250,000.00, which sum is reserved for those petitioners who suffer the most devastating injuries as a result of the flu vaccine. While the permanence of these injuries is a critical factor in recovering most of this pain and suffering value, each claim is different and the impact the injuries have on the petitioner’s ability to enjoy life must be articulated well in order to recover sums anywhere close to the $250,000.00 cap on these non-economic losses.
Either by a stipulated settlement or after a hearing in which both parties can present evidence on the proper damages in their Life Care Plan, lost wages and lost ability to earn money, and pain and suffering, the “Special Master” determines the amount and type of compensation to be awarded to the petitioner. The Court then orders the government, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to award the compensation. The LCP payout will be paid over the lifetime of the victim of the flu vaccine, while the other losses will be paid out almost immediately. In addition, by awarding to the Soloway Law Firm a reasonable attorney’s fee for its services together with reimbursement of the costs and expenses advanced by the firm, the Court makes sure that the victim of the flu vaccine recovers every penny of the compensation awarded. Similar to the promise of the Soloway Law Firm to its Federal Workers’ Compensation Act clients, Vaccine Act clients essentially get the firm’s legal help for free, by paying not a single penny to the firm in attorney’s fees or costs.
The lawyers of the Soloway Law Firm are the only lawyers in Northwest Florida to regularly handle Vaccine Act cases. In 2017, one of our clients was awarded over $3.8 million in damages under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), one of the largest sums ever awarded by the Federal Court of Claims in a flu vaccine case. With hard work and attention to detail, we make sure our clients receive the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled under the Vaccine Act. We will continue to do so into the future, for persons injured by the flu vaccine.