There are several phases in a vaccine case, and we will go over each phase in a single post. [NOTE: Every case is different. What is presented below is what generally happens. But each case has its own unique posture and requirements.]
Once your case has concluded, either win or lose, the next step is to file for Attorney’s Fees and Litigation Costs. We previously discussed attorney’s fees here. To recap, you are not responsible for our attorney’s fees. However, you may incur litigation costs related to your case.
The most common examples of Petitioner litigation costs are the Court’s filing fee, medical records copying charges, expert fees/retainers and postage. Another significant expense that can be incurred by parents of vaccine injured children is the cost of establishing a guardianship of your child’s estate. The DOJ/HHS requires parents of vaccine injured children to become designated as guardians of their child’s estate in order to receive their compensation. Guardianship expenses are incurred in your local community since the guardianship will be approved by a local court with the assistance of local counsel. That attorney may require you to pay their fee in advance. However, in many instances we are able to get them to wait and to just submit the bill to us to include in our Fees & Costs application to the Vaccine Court.
Any expense related to the litigation is reimbursable win or lose so long as the case was filed in good faith and with a reasonable basis. NOTE: This does not include medical copays or expenses. Those are included in damages if you win. They are not reimbursed if you lose. If you incur a litigation expense during the pendency of your case we ask that you send us a copy of the documentation supporting the expense so we can track it and make sure it is included in the final fees and costs application.
In addition, the Vaccine Court requires you to file a signed General Order No. 9 Statement. General Order No. 9requires a statement signed by you that clearly delineates which costs were expended by you, rather than us. It also includes language ensuring that we did not charge you any attorney’s fees or retainers for our services. We send this form for your signature at the end of your case. We will generally send a chart of your expenses that we’ve tracked through the pendency of the case for your review at this time as well.
We have to submit a chart of our expenses along with the supporting documentation as well. In addition, we submit our billable hours to the Court. Processing times for these applications varies based on the Special Master but at a minimum you can expect to wait at least 4 months for a decision on fees. In some circumstances fees decisions can take close to a year. Once the decision is issued, we try to expedite the judgment by filing a joint notice to waive the right of appeal, if the DOJ agrees to it. If not, we have to wait 30 days for the judgment to issue. At that point, similar to the timing in compensation, you’ll likely have to wait an additional 45-60 days for your litigation expenses check to be sent out. Just like the compensation check – your litigation expenses check will be sent to us and we forward the check to you.
With respect to our fees, there is nothing you have to do. With the receipt of your litigation expenses check, your case will formally be concluded.
For more information contact The Law Office of Renée J. Gentry, Esq.