Guillain-Barre Syndrome and the Flu Vaccine: How to Receive Compensation

Every year, a percentage of patients who have received specific vaccines are diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome or GBS. This disorder can produce a negative reaction in the patient’s immune system which causes it to attack their peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, GBS involves demyelinating injuries.  GBS can occasionally be difficult to detect since symptoms can appear for patients anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after receiving their vaccine.

Anyone who has recently been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome or believes that they might have contracted it after vaccination should seek out legal representation immediately. There can be strict statutes of limitation that limit the time you have to file your claim.  In addition, vaccine-related injuries can potentially have long-term detrimental effects, and the sooner you receive compensation for your pain and suffering, the better. Skilled vaccine injury attorneys can help you file a claim, establish your rights, and gather evidence to strengthen your case.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Many patients who find themselves living with GBS have a wide range of symptoms as a result of their disorder. Guillain-Barre Syndrome has a list of variants, each of which has its own set of different characteristics that can trigger unique symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years depending on the patient and the severity of their diagnosis. Some examples of variants for GBS and their symptoms include:

  • Acute Motor Axonal Neuropathy (AMAN): The most common variant, the autoimmune system attacks the nervous system causing acute paralysis and a loss of reflexes
  • Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (AIDP): Tingling, pain, weakness in the limbs and extremities with a potential to result in respiratory failure
  • Acute Motor Sensory Axonal Neuropathy (AMSAN): Pain, increased weakness in the limbs and extremities with a potential for more severe medical complications over time
  • Acute Panautonomic Neuropathy: sensory loss, blurred vision, and the potential for cardiovascular problems
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP): Weakness, impairment, and the potential for a near-total paralysis or permanent physical limitations.
  • Miller Fisher Syndrome (MFS): Lack of coordination or reflexes, eye muscle paralysis, with the potential for respiratory failure
  • Pharyngeal-Cervical-Brachial Variant: Progressive weakness and loss of reflexes in the upper extremities
  • Bickerstaff’s Brainstem Encephalitis (BBE): Loss of reflexes in the lower limbs, lack of motor control, drowsiness, and the potential for patients to become comatose

Each variant is different and can only be diagnosed with the help of a medical professional. It can be helpful to educate yourself on the potential symptoms to watch out for and report them to your doctor or physician as soon as you identify them. Among the patients who have been diagnosed with GBS or one of its variants, there have been a number of common symptoms, including:

  • Severe or increasing pain
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Tingling or “pins-and-needles” sensation
  • Difficulty with motor functions, including:
    • Walking
    • Swallowing
    • Chewing
    • Maintaining balance
    • Loss of reflexes

In many circumstances, a patient can experience an increase in the severity of existing symptoms or develop new ones altogether. Depending on the variant of GBS and the severity of the disorder, other symptoms that could potentially develop include short and long-term complications such as:

  • Problems with bowel movements
  • Difficulty with bladder control
  • Loss of control over the eye and facial muscles
  • Complications with increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Prolonged respiratory dysfunction
  • Permanent sensory impairments
  • Full or partial paralysis

The symptoms that you experience may vary in intensity or frequency, but you should ensure that your doctor and a legal professional are aware of what you are experiencing. Be sure to report it so that all physical reactions are added to your medical paperwork, which is especially helpful in the event that you need to bring this documentation to court as evidence in a case.

Which Vaccines Are Known to Trigger Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Currently, two vaccines have the most common line of connection to Guillain-Barre Syndrome: the tetanus and influenza vaccines. It has not yet been determined if there is one specific active ingredient in either vaccine or their formula that directly links them to GBS, especially because there is a different strain of the flu each year which requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve a unique formula for the flu shot annually.

Although the chances of contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome as a result of taking a vaccine for the flu are low, the chances of catching the flu without being vaccinated are high, and the CDC does recommend that all healthy individuals should receive their shot. Other vaccines that have been known to produce GBS in a small percentage of patients include:

  • Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal (MCV4)
  • Varicella or Chickenpox
  • HPV

Regardless of the vaccine you received that resulted in your pain and discomfort, it is recommended that you seek medical care as soon as you begin to identify potential symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so that treatment can begin early, which improves the chances of success and a quick recovery.

What Are the Treatment Options for Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

One of the most crucial aspects of treating GBS is talking to your doctor in the early stages of the condition. Many of the symptoms can be challenging to identify if they are not brought to a medical professional. You may be asked to participate in a physical exam or a spinal tap which can test for certain signs of the disorder in your cerebrospinal fluid. Common treatment options for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients are:

  • Plasma exchange
  • High-dose immunoglobulin therapy
  • Respirator use for assisted breathing
  • Physical therapy

Due to the varying degrees and symptoms that come with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the disorder has a highly-diverse period for recovery. Depending on the patient and the severity of their condition, symptoms can last for as little as two or three weeks, while other symptoms have been known to persist for years.

How Can I File a Claim after a Guillain-Barre Syndrome Diagnosis?

Many individuals who have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome choose to seek legal action for their pain and suffering. Medical bills associated with the treatment and recovery of any variant of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should be compensated but you must first start by filing a claim.

When dealing with cases related to vaccines, claims must be submitted to the federal government rather than the company which created or administered the vaccine. This is all processed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and, in many cases, is often completed against the Department of Health and Human Services without a complicated trial. This is often referred to as Vaccine Court, which has established a fund to pay for those injured by vaccines, funded by a 75 cent excise tax on certain vaccinations. The same program also covers all legal fees and costs for petitioners that are separate from the financial compensation that they are awarded, which means that most individuals who have been diagnosed with GBS and file claims for compensation can do so at no personal cost.

Claims can be filed for Guillain-Barre Syndrome diagnosis with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program up to three years after the first instance of related symptoms, although for death caused by vaccination, it is two years from the date of death. Recent developments have introduced an 8-year “look back” period for those with GBS caused by vaccines, meaning that any patient who believes that a vaccine they received within that time caused their GBS may be eligible for financial compensation and should speak with an experienced legal professional.

Contact a Trusted Vaccine Injury Attorney Today

Receiving a diagnosis for Guillain-Barre Syndrome can be life-changing and challenging to process. When you deal with difficult situations such as these, you need a skilled legal representative by your side to walk you through the process of filing your claim and obtaining the compensation that you rightfully deserve.

No one should have to suffer through their diagnosis alone. Let the team at Knutson and Casey provide you with expert legal care while we build a strong case for your claim. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you get the justice that is owed to you after your medical diagnosis, and we have helped those living with Guillain-Barre Syndrome obtain millions in financial compensation.

When you’re ready to move forward with your case, contact the experienced and respected attorneys at Knutson and Casey. Reach out to us over the phone at (507) 344-8888 or contact us online to find out more information about setting up your free consultation with one of our legal professionals.