For years, the residents of Camp Lejeune suffered. When it comes to claims, some are confused with the complex process, while others are unaware of their legal rights. This post will discuss the tragic Camp Lejeune case, the eligibility criteria for claims, and how lawyers can help victims fight back.
Recap of the Camp Lejeune Case
The Camp Lejeune lawsuit has been mentioned often in recent news, but many are still unaware of the basic details. Following will be a recap of the Camp Lejeune case.
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, housing both Marines and their families. From the 1950s through to the 1980s, inhabitants of Camp Lejeune were potentially exposed to chemicals in their drinking water, which came from Hadnot Point. It’s estimated that as many as a million members of the military and civilian staff may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, such as benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride.
In the 1980s, the base began testing the water in response to new regulations from the EPA, and harmful chemicals were detected. These chemicals could have come from improper storage of cleaning chemicals or fuel.
However, reports of potential water contamination at Camp Lejeune were continuously ignored throughout the 80s and 90s. Even when potentially contaminated wells were closed, there were no mentions of benzene. An investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in the 90s also didn’t mention benzene and suggested the risk of damage from the contamination would be low.
This 1997 report would be withdrawn in 2009, as full knowledge of the severity of the contamination became known. In 1999, the U.S. Marine Corps began to admit the water may have been contaminated during the mentioned period. In 2009, victims began filing lawsuits against the United States government.
Along with Camp Lejeune lawsuits, action was taken within the United States Congress to address this issue. In 2012, President Obama signed legislation to provide health care to those affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination. This would be followed by the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, which was signed into law in August 2022 by President Biden.
Section 804 of the PACT Act contains a new federal cause of action for those affected by the water at Camp Lejeune. It makes it significantly easier for those affected by the water contamination and their families to seek restitution in court.
Eligibility criteria to Sue
As the 2012 Act mentioned above says, those who served at Camp Lejeune qualify for benefits. However, these benefits have three major requirements.
First, you must have been on active duty during the period between1953 and1987, and you and your family must have been stationed in Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days. Second, you must have a qualifying medical condition.
These conditions include the following:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia
- Birth defects
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Heart defects
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Renal toxicity
With these qualifications, you’re eligible for monthly compensation, depending on how severely these conditions impact your life. In the case of the most serious disabilities, there may also be special extra compensation.
What it means to sue the United States government
With great interest in Camp Lejeune lawsuit payouts, many claimants have considered directly suing the United States government for compensation. However, those filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit against the government may need to accumulate more proof and legal representation.
You would need to prove you were at the Camp Lejeune military base for a period of thirty days. In addition, you’d have to demonstrate you worked or lived in the area near the contaminated water, and directly link your condition to that contamination. You also must have filed a complaint with the Department of Veterans Affairs within six years of exposure, or risk losing the ability to sue. All legal fees associated with the case would be your responsibility.
Furthermore, each victim must file a claim individually. These claims need to be filed within two years of August 10, 2022, when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law. The lawsuit must also be specifically filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina United States District Court.
Why Camp Lejeune Victims need legal representation
So far, the Camp Lejeune lawsuits emerging in the wake of the PACT Act are still young. For many, there’s still confusion among veterans and their families over whether they qualify and what they can expect to receive as compensation.
If you wish to prepare a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, it’s highly recommended you get legal representation for a few reasons. First, it will help you understand if you or a family member qualify for compensation. Second, legal representation can help give greater clarity on the claims process, and guide victims and families through the process of collecting evidence.
A law firm can help calculate the damages and obtain maximum financial compensation. They can also help manage appeals for Veterans Affairs claims that have been denied.
If you or a family member is a veteran affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination and are seeking legal representation, get your free evaluation today. If you have any other questions about the Camp Lejeune lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We can put you in contact with appropriate legal representation in your area.