Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

$11.6 million settles Pennsylvania vaccine liability case

Summertime is vaccination time for many children going to school this fall for the first time. Eight immunizations are required for all children who attend kindergarten or first grade in Allegheny County. The county health department makes exceptions for medical or religious reasons or strong parental objections.

Many employers also mandate or encourage flu shots among employees during the fall and winter months. Offering workers flu vaccines at a low cost or for free is a benefit to companies concerned about lost productivity due to illness. Unfortunately, the flu is the last thing some people have to worry about after having a vaccine.

A Lehigh Valley woman developed a paralyzing disorder after receiving a flu shot in 2010. The 20-year-old woman was required to get the vaccine by her employer. Within a few weeks, the worker suffered symptoms that eventually led to a diagnosis of Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a known but highly uncommon side effect of influenza vaccines.

The young victim filed a lawsuit to recover compensation for her past and future medical and rehabilitation treatment, plus lost wages. An $11.6 million settlement was reached with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal program was set up in 1989 to consider claims by people injured by certain vaccines, including seasonal influenza shots.

The settlement is designed to provide a lifetime of care for the stricken patient. The woman currently is unable to feed herself, but her condition may improve. Guillian-Barre Syndrome is treatable, although it is not curable.

NVICP does not provide compensation for all vaccine injury claims. The program has paid $2.7 billion in vaccine injury awards for 3,621 claims and rejected 9,769 others. A product injuries attorney can assist with NVICP claims to be filed within a three-year deadline and provide assistance with wrongful death actions; rules for loss of life claims are more stringent.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Lehigh Valley woman paralyzed by flu vaccine receives $11.6 million settlement" Jim Boyle, Jun. 13, 2014

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