WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR VACCINATION-RELATED INJURIES?
Many clients and colleagues have been asking me, “What happens if the COVID-19 vaccine injures me?” As the first doses of the new Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are being administered across the country, many lingering questions remain, from the vaccine’s effectiveness to its potential cost. There’s nothing unusual in these questions — in fact, they arise whenever a new vaccine is introduced to the public.
With this new COVID-19 vaccine, most people seem focused on the possibility of side effects. Given that it’s a drug that was developed in record time and had a shorter trial period than many other vaccines, that could definitely be a cause for concern. And while early side effects seem few and far between, what might happen if an injury occurred as a result of vaccination?
Believe it or not, an entire federal department focuses solely on vaccine personal injury claims. They have been dubbed the “vaccine court” but are officially known as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). We can trace their origin back to 1988, when lawsuits threatened our stockpile of certain vaccines based on false scientific claims. But the VICP isn’t just there to protect drug makers; it also provides more accountability so people injured by vaccines can receive justice. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the VICP does not have jurisdiction over COVID-19 vaccines.
That doesn’t mean there’s no recourse. The Health Resources & Services Administration has a program called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which has been charged with hearing COVID-19 vaccination claims and dispensing benefits as appropriate. Exactly what those benefits are remains to be seen — we still don’t know how much they’ll be willing to pay out and under what circumstances. Furthermore, the CICP is traditionally a “last resort” for damages when insurers and other parties won’t pay. Treating them as a first resort is going to be a departure from that.
One of the primary challenges in bringing a COVID-19 vaccine injury claim is that we don’t really know what symptoms or side effects to look out for. There have been minimal reports of adverse effects, but that doesn’t mean problems couldn’t develop down the line. As with all vaccines, the most common side effect is injection site reaction: redness, swollen skin, tenderness, and pain where they put the shot in your arm. A few patients have reported chills, headaches, and flu-like symptoms, and a very small group has reported joint pain.
So far, all those side effects appear to last, at most, a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t new ground to explore regarding coverage benefits if you experience any damaging side effects due to the COVID-19 vaccine. After all, we’ve only been giving the vaccine for a few weeks!
As we move forward in 2021, keep an eye out for side effects from the vaccine. And if you or someone you know does experience ongoing negative effects, The Whisler Law Firm may be helpful in figuring out what your options are for receiving the care and compensation you deserve. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or contact us online (WhislerLawFirm.com) to schedule a free consultation today.
– Josh Whisler
WHISLER TEAM SPOTLIGHT
JB ON WORK, HOBBIES, AND BEING ‘THE OTHER JOSH’
Sometimes, nicknames are a mystery, with nobody remembering how they originated. But with Whisler Law attorney Josh “JB” Brownlee, the nickname was born from pure utility: With two Joshes in the office, we needed to differentiate! “It was that or be ‘the other Josh,’” JB says, with his characteristic good humor. “It’s also pretty good as far as nicknames go, so I knew right away they liked me.”
It’d be hard not to like JB, who’s been in the legal field for over seven years now. In the year and a half he’s been with us, he’s shown himself to be a capable attorney and strategist. “Everything about the law is exciting to me,” JB says, “because I think of it as a chess game. How can we rectify this issue, or what are our options if the opposing counsel does this or that unexpected thing?” A veteran of large law firms, he’s also happy to be playing that chess game in a smaller environment. JB says, “I like getting to know the people in the office, including the clients. Ours are regular people in a tough bind, homeowners or others who don’t know what to do. Insurance companies and others count on that ignorance.”
Counting on ignorance would be a poor legal strategy with JB, however. “I’m known around the office as a stickler for procedure and rules in a case.” It’s a standard he’s happy to hold opposing counsel to, in or outside of the court. “Ninety percent of the time, the rules say or indicate what to do,” JB says. “And the other 10% is being a good lawyer.”
When you picture a “rules lawyer,” you might imagine someone who has trouble easing off the throttle, but that’s not JB at all. “I’m a pretty easy person to please,” he says. “I love spending time with family, especially my niece and my goddaughter. If I’m not chasing them around, give me a glass of scotch and some front porch weather and I’m happy.”
We’re happy, too — that we have JB on our team! We appreciate his hard work, his good nature, and his dedication to our clients.
NOT JUST FOOTBALL PLAYERS
THE STRONG LINK BETWEEN CAR ACCIDENTS AND TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
You’ve probably seen traumatic brain injuries — TBIs for short — in headlines a lot more these past few years as doctors and scientists realize that our brains are a lot more vulnerable to lasting harm than we thought. The biggest stories about these injuries have involved football players and the later-in-life physical and mental illnesses they often suffer as a result of frequent blows to the head. But you don’t have to get hit by a Dolphins or Buccaneers linebacker to sustain a TBI. You just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For most of us, that means a car crash. They’re still doing research to see which kinds of accidents are most likely to cause a TBI, but one thing we do know is that it doesn’t take much force. For example, an accident that causes you whiplash can easily cause a TBI as well, and the threshold may well be lower than that.
Of equal concern is the fact that TBIs are cumulative and deadly. Some statistics report they are at least partly responsible for 30% of deaths in America, and other sources report even higher numbers. Unfortunately, many Americans have suffered TBIs in their lives and are not aware of it. Some research indicates that each TBI lowers your resistance and increases the overall effects, leaving you more and more vulnerable over time.
With any auto accident, it’s important to check for TBIs as well as other injuries, especially if you suffer a blow to the head. But if you’ve been in accidents before, you may already have had these injuries and be unaware. If that sounds familiar, you need to get a doctor to check you out to see if you’ve had TBIs in the past.
Determining that will also help you know if you have a right to compensation from the at-fault party in a car accident. With the potential fallout so high, payouts on these injuries can be high as well. But you’ll need a lawyer specialized in personal injury and with TBI-specific experience. We can help, so whether your accident happened last night or a couple years ago, it’s important to contact The Whisler Law Firm and find out what your legal rights are.