This article has been expertly reviewed by: Serah Waweru, Esq., on May 30, 2023
In medicine, authorized medical practitioners give vaccine shots to boost a person’s immunity and protect them from life-threatening diseases. But what happens when you receive the wrong vaccine? Who should be held responsible for the injuries and complications you may develop thereafter?
If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you’re not alone. Although vaccine mix-ups are rare, they aren’t uncommon. Unfortunately, such mistakes can have serious consequences, including creating doubts about trusting the healthcare system with your health and safety.
And worse still, pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complicated. For instance, the at-fault party could be anyone from the vaccine manufacturer to the nurse on duty when you received the shot. That alone could make it even more challenging to determine liability, a crucial component of any civil lawsuit.
But that shouldn’t stop you from seeking compensation for the injuries caused by receiving the wrong vaccine. If your case is valid, you may recover several damages. Here are five things you must know.
1. Wrong Vaccine May Result In Medical Malpractice
Suppose a nurse gave wrong vaccine during your last visit to the doctor’s office. Although rare, such an unfortunate mistake may result in several complications, including muscle weakness, paralysis, inadequate immunity protection, nerve damage, or even death.
While most people may not have a negative reaction to a vaccine shot, some may experience common symptoms such as headaches, mild fever, swelling, redness, and chills. For this reason, there’s a fine line between a vaccine’s side effects and its adverse outcomes when proving medical malpractice.
So when can you claim medical malpractice after receiving the wrong vaccine? The answer to this question depends on many factors, including the severity of the injury and the medical professional’s misconduct. If you believe you’re a vaccine injury victim, you need to contact a vaccine injury attorney for guidance on how to sue for medical malpractice.
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2. Your Doctor May Not Be the Only At-Fault Party
Although you may hold your doctor responsible for giving you an incorrect vaccine shot, they may not be the only ones at fault. This is because several other parties have a role in enforcing vaccine safety, from manufacturing to storage, labeling, packaging, distribution, and administration. Some parties that may be at fault in a wrong vaccine lawsuit include:
- The healthcare facility where you received the incorrect vaccine shot
- The pharmaceutical company that distributed the vaccine
- The doctor who prescribed the vaccine
- The nurse who mishandled and contaminated the vaccine
- The lab technician who prepared a misleading lab test report that led to an incorrect vaccine prescription
Identifying the at-fault party in a vaccine injury case can be challenging, especially without the help of an injury lawyer. Yet, it’s a critical exercise in determining the compensation you deserve.
3. About The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Vaccine-related injuries put many things at stake, including a person’s health and the public’s trust in the healthcare system. For this reason, the federal government introduced the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to compensate individuals who experience adverse effects or injuries due to a vaccine shot.
VICP has several objectives. First, it protects vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers from extensive liabilities resulting from lawsuits. Secondly, it operates on a no-fault system where, instead of proving negligence, victims of vaccine injuries have to prove that their injury was a result of receiving the vaccine.
By managing vaccine injury complaints, VICP allows the government to amicably enforce vaccination programs to the public and reduce vaccine shortages. As a result, the government can be able to protect the public from life-threatening diseases.
VICP covers vaccines the Centers for Disease Control recommends for routine administration to adults and children. This includes vaccines for measles, hepatitis A and B, influenza, mumps, and many others. Although this program doesn’t cover all vaccines, that doesn’t mean you can’t file a complaint for injuries caused by an uncovered vaccine.
For instance, some vaccines developed to control a public health emergency, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are covered under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). On the other hand, a private health insurance provider may also cover certain vaccines, depending on an individual’s coverage plan.
4. How to File a Vaccine Injury Compensation Claim
The process of filing a compensation claim for vaccine injury differs from most personal injury claims. The steps vary depending on where you’re filing the petition.
For example, if you’re seeking compensation from VICP, you must file a petition with the US Court of Federal Claims. Next, you must send a copy of the petition to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The court will hear your case to determine whether you deserve compensation for the injuries and other damages you incurred due to the wrong vaccine.
On the other hand, if you’re seeking compensation for a vaccine injury covered under CICP, you must complete a Request for Benefits form within one year of receiving the shot. Other documents you must include in your application for benefits include:
- An authorization to use or disclose your health information
- Proof of vaccination, such as a CDC Covid-19 vaccine card
- Some medical and hospital records from your healthcare provider, such as medical visits, consultations, procedures, and test results
Once you submit a complete application, CICP will review your case to determine your eligibility for benefits. You’ll submit additional documentation as needed and finally receive your compensation if eligible.
Although these steps are straightforward, they are not without challenges. For instance, you must gather sufficient evidence to prove the at-fault party’s negligence, some of which may be in the defendant’s possession. As a result, the defendant may frustrate your efforts to collect evidence, making you lose hope, give up, and drop the case.
On the other hand, pursuing government compensation for wrong vaccine injuries can be hectic. There’s no telling how long you’ll wait to receive compensation, let alone knowing whether you’re eligible. And even after the long wait, you may receive the worst news — a denial.
⚖️ PRO TIP | Medical malpractice cases usually have strict statute of limitations. To avoid having your case thrown out due to missed deadlines, you should contact a legal professional specializing in such cases as soon as you find out you’ve been given the wrong vaccine.
5. A Vaccine Injury Lawyer May Be of Great Help
No one walks into a doctor’s office for vaccination expecting to become paralyzed, develop severe medical issues, or die. Instead, they put their trust in the doctor’s hands and hope for better health. But when the worst happens, a vaccine injury attorney may come in handy.
By nature, vaccine injury cases can be complicated. This is because the injuries are often unique to an individual, causing the cases to vary from one individual to another. Additionally, you need compelling and medically-proven evidence to show the relationship between your injuries and the vaccine. Moreover, the defendant’s team is likely to thwart your evidence with another medical explanation for your troubles because they know more about medicine, and you probably don’t.
Hiring an attorney may be the best decision in such cases. These lawyers are familiar with the litigation processes and skilled enough to challenge the defendant’s team competitively.
Here are some ways a vaccine injury lawyer may be of help:
A vaccine injury lawyer can evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid reason to seek compensation.
Once that’s out of the way, the lawyer will investigate the claim to identify the at-fault party, determine negligence, and decide the right cause of action to take.
Vaccine injury claims require a wide range of evidence to prove, including medical tests, doctor’s reports, witness testimonies, and more. That’s also one of the things an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you navigate.
To avoid a lowball settlement, you may need a lawyer’s help in determining your claim’s value and negotiating with the insurance company.
Lastly, should the case go to trial, your lawyer can represent you so you don’t have to face your defendant’s team alone. Keep in mind that medical malpractice cases tend to attract huge settlements, and it’s highly likely that the defendant will be prepared with a team of defense attorneys to fight your claim.
What Happens if You Give the Wrong Vaccine?
If you’re a healthcare professional and you’ve administered the wrong vaccine, you should inform the patient or their guardian as soon as possible and record the error in their medical records. Next, inform your supervisors about the error immediately.
In most cases, you’ll be required to report the vaccination error to the Institute for Sale Medication Practices (ISMP) through their website.
The Vaccine Error Reporting Program (VERP) also allows healthcare providers to report vaccine errors confidentially. Reporting these errors helps these organizations find ways to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Depending on the nature or frequency of these errors, the ISMP may be able to change the vaccine’s name, labeling, among other necessary changes.
Accidental Double Dose of Distemper Vaccine, Can I Sue?
The distemper vaccine is essential for boosting your dog’s immunity against the canine distemper disease. However, an accidental dose of this vaccine may harm your dog.
As a result, your dog may experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Increased body temperature (fever), which can be indicative of an immune response.
- Increased fatigue or lack of energy (lethargy).
- Some dogs may exhibit a decreased interest in food or refuse to eat altogether.
- Gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea
- Dogs may display signs of an allergic reaction, such as facial swelling, hives, itching, or difficulty breathing.
- Injection site reactions, including pain, swelling, or inflammation.
- In rare cases, dogs may experience neurological symptoms such as seizures, tremors, or abnormal behavior.
Whether or not you can sue your vet for malpractice depends on various factors. For instance, if the vet was negligent or acted in an unprofessional manner causing the accidental vaccine dosage, you may sue them for professional malpractice.
⚖️ PRO TIP | The process of suing a vet for malpractice differs from a medical professional. For this reason, you may want to consult your attorney for the steps to take to file your claim.