A Child's View of Recovery Under The National Childhood Vaccine Act or 'He Who Hesitates Is Lost'

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Montana Law Review


The doctrine of statute of limitations, which acts as a bar to certain claims that are not timely filed,' was developed to satisfy the public policy of preventing injustice and perpetual litigation, but often has inequitable results. These inequities are especially so in cases where a limitation on recovery has been placed upon children who might otherwise qualify for compensation under the National Childhood Vaccine Act of 1986 (Vaccine Act). This Article examines the application of the doctrine of Equitable Tolling to the Rights of Impaired Children to recover under the National Childhood Vaccine Act and traces the tremendous effects they can have on one child's life. In understanding the context of the issues relative to the harsh application of the doctrine of the statute of limitations under the Vaccine Act, this Article will first look at the historical background of the Vaccine Act and its intended purpose. Next, the Article will examine one child's medical history and adverse experiences with the Vaccine Act. The Article will then explain the general and case-specific procedures of the Vaccine Act and its causation element. Finally, the Article will examine the differences between the doctrines of equitable estoppel and statute of limitations and provide an explanation of why the former should be applied in certain case brought under the Act.

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Publication Date

Summer 1998