Doctors first detected coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in China’s Wuhan province at the end of 2019. By January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a global health emergency.
The COVID-19 outbreak presents tough choices for lawmakers, governments, small businesses, and other private enterprises. Almost every country worldwide implemented lockdowns and social distancing to prevent the spread of infection.
While these mitigation measures helped contain the virus, COVID-19 cases have reached 650,332,899. This reported data include 6,690,473 deaths as of January 10, 2023.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, scientists have scrambled to find effective treatments for COVID-19. The search continues, but the vaccine is among the developments now being used to combat this infectious disease.
Vaccination serves as one of the protections from serious illness, hospitalization, and death. According to WHO, 13,107,022,929 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of January 5, 2023.
But concerns about potential adverse effects and liability have emerged since the global rollout of these vaccines. Although they provide a glimmer of hope for a return to normal, vaccine injuries are leaking into the mainstream press. This caused public hesitation to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
On top of the physical and emotional concerns, legal matters are rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some COVID-19 lawsuits that people file all over the world include employment issues, medical negligence, and failed business contracts.
Lawyers undeniably play a significant role during the COVID-19 outbreak. Whether your loved ones experienced any vaccine-related injuries or violation of human rights, you should assert your rights at the state court or federal court. The same applies to individuals or entities being sued amid a global pandemic.
What You Need To Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Injuries
Less than a year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, several vaccines received emergency use authorization in countries worldwide.
Vaccines have changed the course of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, even with limited protection against infection. It’s still possible to get infected by COVID-19 and transmit it to others after vaccination.
But you’re more likely to experience mild or no symptoms compared to the unvaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that vaccines protect people against severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.
Immunizing the global population is crucial for ending the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why countries must continue working towards vaccinating at least 70% of their people, prioritizing 100% of health workers and the most vulnerable groups.
Unfortunately, global herd immunity against COVID-19 remains a challenge. Countries have experienced unequal access to vaccines due to a limited supply of doses. Public health concerns about the side effects and long-term health risks of sped-up vaccine approvals exacerbate the situation.
While vaccination effectively addresses the COVID-19 outbreak, some individuals have suffered adverse side effects. It’s worth noting that no vaccination is entirely safe. But as per CDC, the benefits of being vaccinated generally outweigh the known and potential risks involved in vaccines.
Are there legal options if you suffer injuries due to the COVID-19 vaccination? Compensation for victims of COVID-19 vaccine-related injuries is limited. But several countries have already established a system to compensate people who experienced physical harm due to vaccination.
Advocates of the following vaccine injury compensation schemes believe these programs could enhance public trust in COVID-19 vaccination. This is a critical factor in achieving the uptake necessary for herd immunity.
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme
Like other medicines, vaccines can have harmful side effects. While most cases are mild and resolve within a few days, some may suffer severe but rare adverse reactions.
In Australia, there’s a claims scheme for people who experience moderate to severe adverse events to a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the following are the vaccines approved for use in the country.
- Nuvaxovid ( Novavax)
- Comirnaty (Pfizer)
- Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)
- Spikevax Moderna)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (Janssen)
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme seeks to compensate eligible claimants without undergoing complicated legal proceedings. It allows individuals to claim a one-off payment for the harm they suffered because of COVID-19 vaccination.
Under the scheme, you must meet the following requirements to be eligible for compensation or financial support:
- Received a TGA-approved vaccine for COVID-19
- Complied with the definition of COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Related Harm
- Been confined to the hospital as an inpatient due to harm you suffered or sought a waiver
- Incurred losses or expenses of $1,000 or more as a result of COVID-19 vaccination
A parent or guardian can represent eligible claimants. The deceased’s estate representative can also make a claim when dealing with the wrongful death of a person related to the COVID-vaccine administration.
Through Australia’s COVID-19 claims scheme, you can seek compensation for your injuries and losses without involving a lawyer. However, a doctor must diagnose you with an eligible condition or injury accepted under the scheme.
The problem is that many medical professionals are reluctant to link the victim’s symptoms to the vaccine. Unsurprisingly, the percentage of successful claims for injuries from COVID-19 vaccines is small.
Based on a report, Services Australia had made payments for only 46 claims under the vaccine claims scheme. This accounts for only 1.6% of the 2833 COVID-19 claims received in Australia.
Payouts for the vaccine claims scheme may increase to $76.9 million in 2022-2023. But is the paperwork, medical support, and proof of evidence you need to gather worth it?
The legal costs are not payable under the scheme. Because of that, many victims may be unable to access justice, leaving them susceptible to poor outcomes.
The COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme in Australia is incredibly difficult to navigate. But with the guidance of an experienced lawyer, Australians may obtain a successful claim.
Canada’s vaccine injury support program
Serious side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are extremely rare in Canada. But the government wants to ensure all people in Canada have fair access to financial support if an adverse reaction occurs.
Through the Vaccine Injury Support Program (VICSP), Canadians who have suffered serious and permanent injuries due to COVID-19 vaccination can seek compensation. But there’s an exception for those that received vaccination in Québec.
The province has had a vaccine injury compensation program since 1985. Individuals vaccinated in Québec can get compensation through the long-standing Québec program.
Meanwhile, Canada’s vaccine injury support program officially started accepting claims in June 2021. More than $2.7 million has been paid out to eligible claimants. As of December 1, 2022, the program received 1,299 claims. But the program identified 209 claims as inadmissible due to ineligibility or incomplete information.
Canadians must meet the following criteria to be eligible for compensation and have a successful claim:
- Received Health Canada-approved vaccines
- The date of vaccination was on or after December 8, 2020
- The administration of vaccine must be in Canada
- Suffered a serious and permanent injury or has died as a result of the vaccination
- The claimant reported the injury to a healthcare provider
- Claims are filed within three years after the date of vaccination, death, or when an injury first becomes evident
After meeting these eligibility requirements and submitting an application, a doctor from the vaccination injury support program will review it. Note that they may request further medical records. The average claim may take from 12 to 18 months to process.
Ross Wightman was one of the first Canadians approved for compensation because of COVID-19 vaccine injuries. The time it took to receive his compensation was tedious and frustrating.
After receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in April 2021, Wightman was left partially paralyzed. He was hospitalized for 67 days and diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It’s a rare condition where one’s immune system starts attacking the body’s nerves.
But it was only in May 2022 that Wightman received a letter from the program. It confirmed he is eligible for compensation as the injuries he sustained are likely the result of the COVID-19 vaccine.
US compensation programs for COVID-19 vaccines
The US continues to pursue a comprehensive vaccine campaign to stop the spread of coronavirus. But many people remain skeptical of receiving COVID-19 vaccines because of the fear of experiencing an adverse reaction.
Serious vaccine injuries are incredibly rare. Still, the US has established two federal compensation systems for individuals injured by vaccines. These methods are the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
Both allow eligible claimants to seek compensation for vaccine-related severe injuries without resorting to traditional litigation. But anyone who believes a COVID-19 vaccine may have injured them must file a claim with the CICP.
COVID-19 vaccines are covered countermeasures under the CICP. Currently, the program is the only way to get compensation for a COVID-19 vaccine injury in the US.
As of December 1, 2022, the CICP determined 12 COVID-19 vaccine claims that are compensable. But at the same time, 68 COVID-19 claims have also been denied compensation. This is because they failed to meet the causation criteria and didn’t sustain a covered injury.
CICP requires a higher burden of proof. It only provides compensation for death or serious physical injuries that result in significant loss of function or disability. Thus, experiencing minor side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine would not qualify for CICP compensation.
It’s not surprising to know that the CICP has yet to compensate for any injuries caused by COVID-19 countermeasures. Suppose you believe a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment harmed your health. In that case, you may file a claim with the CICP if you satisfy the eligibility requirements.
UK vaccine damage payment scheme
The UK government compensates people who suffer harm from vaccines through the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS). Victims can get a one-off tax-free payment of up to £120,000. However, they must prove that the vaccination caused at least 60% disability.
Did one of your loved ones die after becoming severely disabled because of vaccinations against COVID-19 or other covered diseases? If that’s the case, you can apply for this payment on their behalf. Note that this is only applicable if you’re managing their estate.
A legal representative or solicitor isn’t required to apply for a Vaccine Damage Payment. But the process and requirements can be confusing and overwhelming. Hiring a lawyer or solicitor to make a claim won’t hurt.
The average non-coronavirus claim for a Vaccine Damage payment claim can take at least six months. But the process will take longer if you make a claim related for COVID-19 vaccination. The first payments have been made to bereaved families or people harmed by the vaccine.
Vikki Spit from Cumbria was the first to receive compensation for a COVID-19 vaccine death. After her fiancé died following an AstraZeneca jab in May 2021, she waited for a year to get the maximum settlement of £120,000.
Because of the inadequacies of the scheme, some families may consider litigation to access reasonable financial support. Technically, the Vaccine Damage payments are not treated as a compensation scheme in the UK. Even if you get the payment, it’s still possible to seek damages in court.
COVID-19 lawsuits against the Canadian government
Since the COVID-19 outbreak and vaccine mandate, there have been proposed class actions relating to the coronavirus pandemic in the US and Canada. Below are two examples of legal action against the Canadian government.
A lawsuit against British Columbia COVID-19 vaccination orders
A non-profit organization filed a class action lawsuit against the BC provincial government for violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CAASPP) claims the double immunization orders were unjustified and unconstitutional.
The lawsuit named BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as a defendant. She required an estimated 41 healthcare workers to get two COVID-19 vaccines to continue working.
The BC Supreme Court rejected the provincial government’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit. If there were actual trials, the class action could result in 3 million claims.
Wrongful dismissal lawsuit against Toronto Transit Commission
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) implemented its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. It requires all city staff and workers to get fully vaccinated by October 30, 2021. The notifications stated that the consequence for non-compliant employees would be termination.
The TTC duly terminated those who remained unvaccinated against COVID-19 or failed to show proof of full vaccination by January 27, 2022. The commission fired 354 workers for not meeting its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
The labor union representing TTC workers called the firings due to its vaccination policy wrong and unjust. Failure to fully vaccinate against COVID-19 should not be used to dismiss an employee without worker’s compensation. TTC can only fire non-unionized employees for that cause if there’s a mandate or executive order from the government.
The terminated employees sought compensation and filed a $3 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the TTC.
Suppose you worked for a company and lost your job due to wrongful dismissal. In that case, an experienced lawyer can help enforce your rights.
Potential COVID-19 Lawsuits Facing Big Pharma in the Future
Pharmaceutical companies play a critical role in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have been investigating what existing drugs might help treat COVID-19 patients.
The unprecedented need for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics is one of the pharma industry’s challenging trends. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, they rushed the production of vaccines. Up to this day, they continue to work on developing potential new treatments.
With COVID-19 vaccinations in full swing, wrongful death, severe illness, and other medical complications emerged after vaccination.
When drugs cause harm, it’s possible to file a product liability lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies that make them. But that’s not the case with vaccines. Vaccines authorized under Emergency Use Authorization limit the liability of vaccine manufacturers.
Drugmakers routinely faced vaccine-related injury lawsuits and paid out millions to plaintiffs. But because of this, some decided to stop making vaccines altogether. It caused an alarm from public health officials concerned about sustaining and developing vaccines.
Although pursuing a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies is unlikely, victims can qualify for financial compensation if a vaccine causes harm.
But recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis sought a grand jury investigation for COVID-19 vaccination in Florida. It aims to probe any potential wrongdoings by pharmaceutical companies concerning the COVID-19 vaccines.
On December 22, 2022, the Florida Supreme Court approved a grand jury probe for COVID-19 vaccines. Because of this, pharmaceutical companies proven to have committed misconduct may be held accountable.
Individuals Suing Educational Institutions in the UK During COVID-19 Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the education system. Besides the health concerns, the unscheduled closure of schools restricted students’ learning opportunities worldwide.
Because of insufficient provision for education, nearly 20,000 students pursued legal action against their respective universities in the UK. They aim to seek compensation for the full tuition fees they paid during the COVID-19 lockdown and teaching strikes.
If successful, plaintiffs at universities are estimated to win compensation of about £5,000 each, significantly more for international students. This would cause a massive financial impact, especially on institutions that depend on course fees for most of their income.
The following are some of the eighteen universities that have received legal letters notifying them of the class action COVID-19 lawsuit.
- University College London
- University of Manchester
- London School of Economics
- University of Leeds
- King’s College London
- University of Birmingham
- Warwick and Cardiff Universities
The Importance of Getting Legal Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has brought unparalleled challenges to public health, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, food systems, and the global workforce.
With the lack of social protection and access to quality health care, getting legal help is more important than ever at both global and local levels. Legal and regulatory actions are powerful tools for addressing public health emergencies like the COVID-19 outbreak.
The pandemic intensified numerous existing problems, including joblessness, discrimination, and health challenges. Issues concerning employment and worker violations and domestic violence have also worsened.
Suppose you’re a victim of inequality, negligence, or medical malpractice during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that case, a lawyer from a reliable law firm can help you with the following.
- Determine potential acts of negligence in your specific circumstances
- Calculate the compensation you may be eligible to receive
- File and complete COVID-19-related lawsuits from beginning to end
- Fight for your legal rights and any of your loved ones at the appropriate court system
Did you know?
In the US, 5,659 lawsuits and 646 class actions have been filed for alleged COVID-19-related labor and employment violations.
Seek Legal Assistance From The Personal Injury Center
The COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for most people. Besides the health and economic concerns, there are legal issues that individuals and entities may face.
Suppose you’re looking to pursue a coronavirus-related lawsuit. In that case, an experienced lawyer can help protect your rights during this challenging time. We at The Personal Injury Center understand how overwhelming it can be to find someone that provides honest and personal representation.
We have resources to help COVID-19 victims achieve the best possible outcome of a personal injury case. Contact The Personal Injury Center today for a free consultation. We’ll connect you to the best lawyers in your area.
Protect your legal rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact The Personal Injury Center today for effective legal assistance.
FAQs on COVID-19 Lawsuits
Based on court filings, employers can expect to encounter the following employment litigation related to COVID-19:
- Unsafe working conditions claims
- Disability discrimination claims
- Worker's compensation claims
- Wrongful dismissal claims
- Wage and hour claims
Manufacturers of vaccines are generally protected from most vaccine-related personal injury lawsuits. The federal government in the US provided drugmakers with substantial immunity from product liability lawsuits involving vaccines. But you can still seek compensation for the vaccine-related injury you sustain.
How can small businesses in New York and other countries protect themselves from potential COVID-19 lawsuits?
Small businesses cannot wholly avoid potential COVID-19 lawsuits. But they can ensure better protection by taking the following steps.
- Comply with the state and local requirements and guidelines regardingCOVID-19 safety in the workplace
- Establish and update a written COVID-19 prevention plan and policies
- Promptly address employee complaints about COVID-19 safety with proper documentation
- Stay up-to-date with the practices of other businesses in your industry and the employee litigation they may be facing