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How Policy Shapes PoliticsRights, Courts, Litigation, and the Struggle Over Injury Compensation$
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Jeb Barnes and Thomas F. Burke

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756117.001.0001

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Vaccine Injury Compensation

Vaccine Injury Compensation

Shifting Policies, Shifting Politics

Chapter:
(p.152) 5 Vaccine Injury Compensation
Source:
How Policy Shapes Politics
Author(s):

Jeb Barnes

Thomas F. Burke

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756117.003.0005

This chapter explores the case of vaccine injury compensation, where adversarial legalism is replaced by bureaucratic legalism. It traces the first personal injury lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers in the 1950s, the growth in litigation that triggered a crisis in the 1980s, the creation of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986, and the subsequent conflict over the program. The case highlights how adversarial legalism affects the distribution of costs and benefits, the attribution of blame for injury, and the effect of these mechanisms on politics. Adversarial legalism tends to fragment interests, and makes it harder to reframe injuries in terms of social responsibility versus individual fault. Though the political trajectory of bureaucratic legalism is toward a calmer, more technocratic politics, the creation of a bureaucratic legal policy for compensating vaccine injuries has not yet generated a calmer politics, due in part to some turns back to adversarial legalism.

Keywords:   vaccine, litigation, adversarial legalism, bureaucratic legalism

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