Medical records review is a vital part of any personal injury lawsuit since it provides the necessary medical evidence to substantiate the injury. The risk posed by pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and other medications is a serious one. Every other day we hear news about the adverse reactions of these products, which give rise to numerous injury lawsuits.
Recent news highlighted the fact that a small number of cases have been filed in Pennsylvania over injuries supposedly caused by a shingles vaccine. Attorneys handling the cases say that many more files may be filed soon. The drug in question is Zostavax, a shingles vaccine that is said to have led to diverse injuries such as rashes, seizures, severe outbreaks of chicken pox, or even liver failure that is said to have caused one plaintiff’s death. The attorneys are preparing to seek a mass tort status considering the thousands of potential plaintiffs. To have cases consolidated, courts usually look for a common injury. In cases with this vaccine, the injuries vary though the plaintiffs broadly appeared to commonly suffer from neurological injuries. Attorneys believe that the strength of the cases and the possibility of a mass tort will depend eventually on the science behind the claims. In mass tort cases that involve thousands of medical records, attorneys typically utilize medical review services for easy data abstraction and access.
The litigation is likely to stay in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since the vaccine was manufactured in West Point, Pennsylvania, and the manufacturer Merck is headquartered in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program compensates injuries caused by vaccines. The cases are litigated in the Vaccine Court, a division of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The following people can file a claim.
- Those who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that they have been injured by the vaccine can file a claim.
- Parents/legal guardians of a child/disabled adult who received a vaccine covered by the VICP, and believe that the vaccine caused the injury can file a claim.
- Those who are legal representatives of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person’s death resulted from the vaccine injury led to the person’s death can file a claim.
- Even those who are not U.S. citizens can file a vaccine injury claim.
Consider the following eligibility criteria too.
The effects of the person’s injury must have
- Lasted for more than six months after the vaccine was given, or
- Resulted in a hospital stay and surgery, or
- Resulted in death.
A vaccine injury claim must be filed within three years from the date of onset of symptoms. In the case of a vaccine-related death, a claim must be filed no later than two years from the date of death.
To prove a vaccine claim, accurate medical records are indispensable because they are the primary tool for proving the claim. The process as a whole is designed to be quicker than civil litigation. The compensation paid for a vaccine injury is under the following three categories.
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Past or future lost earnings
- Pain suffering up to $250,000
Majority of vaccine injury cases settle before trial. It is important for the attorney to assimilate all available medical evidence via a medical chart review. Once all the medical proof is streamlined, it becomes easier to prove the vaccine injury case.