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What the No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme means for patients

Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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What the No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme means for patients

The Australian Government has announced details of the No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme.

The Scheme will cover the costs of injuries and loss of income above $5,000 due to a proven adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination incurred from February 2021.

Services Australia will administer the Scheme. Independent experts will assess claims and the Government will pay compensation based on the recommendations.

From 6 September 2021 people can register their intent to claim via the Scheme’s webpage.

The Government says the Scheme will provide Australians with a simple and quick administrative process for compensation. The Scheme will serve people who suffer a serious adverse reaction but cannot prove negligence on the part of the vaccination provider.

The full details of the scheme have not been finalised.

The scheme’s website references the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines that are included in their respective, approved Product Information warnings. It is not clear if these known side effects will be excluded.

Claim between $5,000 and $20,000

To make a claim, people have to be in hospital for at least one night. They need to provide evidence of:

  • the nature of the injury and medical documentation of its likely relationship to a COVID-19 vaccination
  • hospitalisation, due to a vaccine-related injury
  • medical costs
  • lost wages.
Major claims

The evidence requirements for claims $20,000 and over, including death, are still being developed.

Will the Scheme provide adequate compensation?

This remains to be seen. The Scheme will almost certainly pay lower amounts of compensation than those from a common law damages claim.

At this stage, the Government says the scheme will cover “injury and loss of income”. It seems unlikely that it will cover past and future domestic assistance and personal care requirements. The extent to which future treatment needs may be met, or compensation for non-economic loss or damages for pain and suffering, is also unclear.
Does the Scheme prevent other legal action?

We believe it doesn’t prevent people from taking other legal action, such as a damages claim, particularly if the adverse reaction was caused by negligence on the part of the person or health care facility administering the vaccination.

Our current advice is that clients can pursue both options.

What other options for compensation are there? Our client’s story.

We are acting for a new client for whom we anticipate filing proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court. We will also be pursuing compensation through the Scheme.

Our client is 60. Seven days after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine she went to hospital with fever and right leg pain. Her test results showed a very elevated D-Dimer rate which the healthcare team should have recognised as suggestive of thrombosis. However, because there was no concrete finding on Doppler scanning, she was sent home.

She went back to hospital four days later with worsening headache, neck pain and mild upper limb weakness. Tests showed sinus thromboses and brain haemorrhaging.

Anticoagulation medications weren’t enough, and our client had a thrombectomy and had to recover in the Intensive Care Unit.

Thankfully, she is slowly recovering at home. We will be arguing for damages for her pain and suffering, past and future treatment costs, and past and future care needs, due to the negligence of the medical staff treating our client.

How we can help

If you have experienced an injury or loss because of an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination, it is important to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer quickly who can help you to decide the best course of action.

For damages claims, we act on a no-win, no-fee basis for these cases. So, you don’t pay us until the end of the case, when you get your money.

Our expert health and medical lawyers can assist with

  • making a claim through the Government’s No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme
  • assessing if you have a case for damages caused by medical negligence.
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