Answers to All of Your Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Questions
With all of the billboards, TV and radio commercials, news stories, and just general conversation surrounding Camp Lejeune, it’s understandable to feel as though you’ve been left out of the loop.
You may be wondering whether you’re eligible to file a claim, how a lawsuit would affect your VA benefits, or simply what the Camp Lejeune toxic water contamination lawsuits are all about. We’ve provided definitive answers to these questions and more below in the hopes that this information will empower victims and share a powerful story of long-awaited justice.
What Is the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base in North Carolina that has been in operation since 1942. In the years since it opened, the base has been a home or workplace for thousands of service members, relatives of service members, and civilian workers.
In an effort to provide accessible drinking water to those living or working on the base, Camp Lejeune had its own public water system with eight water treatment plants. However, in the early ’80s, environmental tests revealed that two of those water wells were contaminated with extremely high levels of hazardous chemicals — dry-cleaning solvents, industrial degreasers, and other toxic compounds, all of which pose a serious threat to human health.
So, who was responsible for these chemicals being in the water? The CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states that, along with leaks and spills from industrial storage tanks, the main contributor to the water contamination was the waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a nearby dry cleaning company.
Although the two contaminated water wells were closed down in 1985, the damage had already been done; many had been ingesting the contaminated water for years and were already suffering the effects. It wasn’t until 2008 that the US Navy was required to investigate the resulting injuries and deaths, and most victims had to wait until 2012 to receive assistance with their healthcare expenses from the VA.
Still, real justice did not come until August of this year when President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Under this law, victims can finally file lawsuits against the federal government to seek the much-needed and much-deserved compensation for the hardships they’ve faced.
Who Qualifies for Compensation?
As we’ve established, it was not only US Marines who were affected by the contaminated water, though they do represent the majority of victims. Family members who lived on base were also affected and are entitled to compensation for their injuries and illnesses, along with reservists, guardsmen, and civilians.
In addition to the compensation available from a lawsuit, the VA also reimburses healthcare expenses for veterans and their families, and disability benefits are available through the VA for those affected.
It should be noted that Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, one in a collection of military bases near Camp Lejeune, is also included in the lawsuits with the same conditions for filing.
What Are the Requirements To File a Lawsuit?
There are certain criteria that must be met for an individual to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit:
If you are a veteran or were a civilian worker at Camp Lejeune, you must provide proof that
- You served or worked at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, AND
- You have been diagnosed with one or more of the conditions associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination:
- Bladder Cancer
- Birth Defects
- Kidney Cancer
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Systemic Sclerosis
If you are the family member of someone who served at Camp Lejeune, you must provide proof that
- You lived on base (or were in your mother’s womb) at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987,
- You are related to an individual who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River, AND
- You have been diagnosed with one or more of the conditions associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination.
There is a statute of limitations on filing Camp Lejeune lawsuits, allowing victims two years from the date that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law. This means that after August 2024, there will likely be no more opportunities to pursue compensation for injuries and illnesses caused by the contamination.
What If You Were Denied VA Benefits in the Past or Are Already Receiving Them?
First of all, you should be aware that receiving disability payments for your Camp Lejeune-related injuries and illnesses does NOT mean you are unable to file a lawsuit, and you will NOT lose your benefits by doing so.
With a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit, affected individuals may recover damages that have not been addressed by disability, including emotional damages (pain and suffering) and lost employment opportunities. Similarly, a previous denial of disability benefits for your condition should not keep you from filing a claim.
The bottom line is that this is a second chance for anyone meeting the requirements to be seen, heard, and justly compensated for their experiences after so long a struggle.
Need help with your Camp Lejeune claim? Our legal partners want to hear your story and assist you in pursuing justice. Call today for a free consultation.