Most people are not aware of the strict time deadlines for filing claims when they have side effects from vaccines. As a general rule, people who are injured by a covered vaccine have three years from the first manifestation or onset of symptoms to file a petition for compensation. An example of the Court’s historically strict interpretation of the statute can be seen in the case of Markovich v. Sec’y of HHS. In that case, a two-month-old child received the DTap, polio, and Haemophilus influenza type b vaccinations on July 10, 2000.* Later that day and in the weeks that followed, her parents observed their daughter blinking her eyes rapidly. On Aug. 30, 2000, she suffered her first grand-mal seizure. She continued to have seizures until January 2002, when a neurologist diagnosed her as having had four types of seizures, including repeated eye blinking. The Markoviches filed their VICP Petition on Aug. 29, 2003. The Markoviches thought that they had complied with the statute, because it was filed less than three years after their daughter’s first grand-mal seizure. However, the Court disagreed and instead found that their daughter’s eye blinking episode, on the day she received the vaccine, was the first symptom of the injury and triggered the filing
deadline. Based upon that date of onset, the Markovich’s petition was time-barred and dismissed.
The Markovich decision reaffirms the Court’s strict objective standard for interpreting the statute. It did not matter to the Court that the Markoviches thought their daughter’s eye blinking was simply an indication that she was tired. It did not matter to the Court that the Markoviches reasonably would not have known at the time of the rapid eye blinking that a vaccine injury had occurred or appreciate its significance. Instead, the court used an objective standard based upon the medical profession at large.
Many people who are injured by vaccines are not aware of the VICP, which can also cause delays in filing petitions. If
-Jonathan Svitak *Markovich v. Sec’y HHS, 477 F.3d 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 92 (2007). you believe that you have suffered a vaccine injury, we encourage you to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
I want to share with you another person whom I have greatly admired for my entire life: my great uncle, Dr. George Ogura. Among the many lessons Uncle George taught me (both by word and example) is the importance of having a passion for whatever it is you do. The son of first generation Japanese immigrants, George was born on Oct. 3, 1917, in Stockton, California. When I was born, George was already 72 years young. Before I came around, George had already lived a full, passionate life. He graduated from Colorado University Medical School in 1942. He also served in the Air Force and was stationed in Germany. He was a pioneer in the field of forensic pathology and served as Chief Medical Examiner for the Denver County Coroner’s Office for decades. After his retirement, at a time when many people start to wind down, Uncle George and Aunt Marvis revved up — they had too many passions yet to pursue. When he was in his 80s, George traveled to Brazil to help conduct research on jaguars. He whitewater rafted his way through the Grand Canyon to help map the Colorado River. He collected Native American art. He traveled the world chasing solar eclipses. Uncle George was a fascinating storyteller and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known. In one afternoon of family party conversations, he could break down the Broncos offseason moves A LIFE OF PASSION
with my dad and me (George was a Broncos season ticket holder for over 40 years) and then easily transition to discussing the shrinking habitat of Asian elephants with my brother. At 99 years old, after defeating cancer at 97, Uncle George celebrated our wedding day with Caitlin and me. I’ll be forever grateful that he was able to share that day with us. Undoubtedly, he shared a few more stories with the people there lucky enough to talk with him. Before he passed away earlier this year, Uncle George celebrated his 100th birthday — another of his life goals fulfilled. Though I missed the first 72 years, Uncle George exemplified how I hope to live my sunset years (or decades) — with an unrelenting enthusiasm for life.
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