Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2023: What Veterans Need to Know

    As a federal remedy, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022 provides restitution for losses and suffering endured by residents of Camp Lejeune, including military personnel, civilians, and their families. A claim can be filed against the US government by anyone living or working at the base between 1953 and 1987 who was exposed to contaminated water during that period. If the contamination of the water causes harm to victims, they may be able to seek appropriate relief.

    The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provided a long-overdue judicial remedy for Camp Lejeune water poisoning victims. Anyone who files a case must win on the merits in the court, and justice will be made available through the courts. A department in the Treasury called the Treasury Judgement Fund is in charge of adjudicating and paying out CLJA appeals.

    What Is The Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2023?

    On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law. Veterans and their families suffering from cancer and illnesses caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can seek legal compensation from the government. There is a deadline for filing claims of August 10, 2024.

    One of the purposes of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is to expand benefits and healthcare for veterans harmed by toxic exposures during their service, which is part of a much broader law called the Honoring Our PACT Act.

    What Events Led To The Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

    Bringing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022 to fruition has been a long-standing process. Thousands of people have died due to the decades-long water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and up to now, no adequate steps have been taken to correct the problem.

    Healthcare benefits and other compensation have been offered to victims in the past:

    • The first lawsuit about contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was filed by the wife of a Marine stationed there in 2010. A diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was made for Laura Jones.
    • HR 1627 was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. As a result of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, service members exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune were granted benefits.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs announced presumptive diseases associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination in 2017. Many veterans requested compensation for their presumptive conditions in response to this list but were, sadly, denied it.

    Who Does The CLJA Apply To?

    From August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, veterans, family members, non-military (civilian) employees, contractors, and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina can now file claims for damages caused by exposure to contaminated water.

    It was impossible to file a claim until the bill was signed into law, which will finally bring justice to those injured by contaminated water after decades of being denied compensation. Someone who suffered one of the identified illnesses, and lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the said period can seek legal compensation.

    Honouring Our PACT Act Of 2023

    As a result of bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the Act was signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022.

    As a result of the reintroduction on the House floor on July 13, the Honoring Our PACT Act passed by a vote of 342-88, a much more significant margin than the March vote. A budget amendment resulted in its reintroduction and then awaited Senate approval. The bill was sent to President Biden for his signature after the Senate passed it.

    Over 3.5 million veterans will be eligible for VA healthcare under the Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022. Moreover, it enhances research into toxic chemical exposure due to military service and makes healthcare more accessible.

    Exceptional Circumstances Created By The CLJA

    In the wake of the Honoring our PACT Act, and consequently, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, becoming law, a unique legal framework has been created for the unique circumstances in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The following characteristics will make this legislation unique concerning claims.

    • There are seven decades of claims involved.
    • Administrative filings are required before lawsuits can be filed.
    • Usually, the government was immune from civil and criminal liability for injuries and damages sustained while on active duty by members of the armed forces. This immunity is no longer relevant.
    • There is the potential for a large volume of lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina due to the legislation requiring all lawsuits to be filed in the Federal Courts of this district.

    Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: A Brief History

    Camp Lejeune’s groundwater contained dangerous contaminants and carcinogens in the early 1980s. As medical research and scientific evidence evolved, certain medical conditions, including cancers, infertility, congenital disabilities, and Parkinson’s Disease, were linked to exposure to these contaminants.

    A presumptive service connection was established in 2017 in respect of eight medical conditions suffered by members of the armed forces exposed during the relevant period. However, while eligible veterans could receive health care and VA compensation, no total and fair compensation was available to affected parties for their injuries.

    According to Feres v. the United States, 340 US 135, the federal government enjoys immunity from suits filed by service members. An individual who suffers injuries to their service cannot file a claim under the Feres Doctrine.

    Furthermore, North Carolina law prohibits tort suits where the defendant’s last act or omission occurred more than ten years ago for non-military exposure victims. Since many toxic exposure victims did not know that their long-term effects or medical issues caused their issues for decades, they could not file before the deadline. The Camp Lejeune Act eliminates these barriers.

    Filing Of Claims

    Naval Tort Claims Unit (TCU) in Norfolk, Virginia, handles claims filed by injured parties or their representatives. You should file your claim using Standard Form 95 (SF-95), which includes information about the injured person, the injuries, and the damages you seek. It is not allowable to claim punitive damages. Any award of damages under this claim or litigation will be offset by compensation from the VA or Social Security.

    After the claim is presented correctly, the TCU will have 180 days to act on it. Depending on the claim, the TCU can investigate, try to resolve or settle it, or deny it. Injury victims may file suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina if the Navy does not take action within 180 days of receiving the injury claim or denies it. The injured party must file a lawsuit within 180 days after the Navy denied their claim.

    The claimants must prove that their illness/injuries occurred in the requisite time due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, unlike the presumptive service connection granted by the VA. Expert medical witnesses are likely to be required to explain this connection.

    Further, other parties may be liable for contaminating the claimant and causing their injuries. To ensure that an injured party receives the compensation and justice they deserve, legal advice and representation may be beneficial.

    Importance Of Camp Lejuene Justice Act 2023

    Military families and civilians suffering from diseases, deformities, and loss of loved ones would otherwise have no opportunity to receive compensation without the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The US government is now prohibited from asserting specified immunity to cover compensation for those suffering from exposure to presumptive conditions.

    You may still have a claim even without a presumptive illness. Additionally, parents of the poisoned children and their primary caretakers may seek reparations on behalf of the poisoned adults who lived on Camp Lejeune as children.

    Numerous impacted individuals were previously legally barred from filing claims because of an obscure North Carolina statute of repose. The statute only exists in North Carolina. Although it has been amended for future cases, it does not apply retroactively, so victims seeking compensation outside the ten years cannot file.

    Those who have served in the military and their families can now access the courts through Camp Lejeune Justice Act. A legal claim must be proven and won on its merits by individuals not already compensated. Following the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, judgments are adjudicated in the courts and paid through the Treasury Judgment Fund of the United States Treasury Department.

    If you are considering filing a Camp Lejeune claim, you must seek the advice and representation of a qualified attorney as soon as possible. Are you interested in learning more? Check out our article on how to find the best lawyers for Camp Lejeune legal assistance.

    To read about different types of disability and the associated cash compensation for the disabled or learn more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation, check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blogs today!