Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit: Who Can File a Claim?

    The water supply at Camp Lejeune had become contaminated by 1953. For more than 30 years, the residents of Camp Lejeune consumed poisoned water that contained hazardous chemicals and volatile compounds. Toxins leaking from the base’s junkyard, fuel supply, and dry cleaner filtered into the groundwater.

    The US Government and military didn’t discover contamination until 1982. Water used for drinking, cooking, and bathing was contaminated with cancer-causing toxins such as Trichloroethylene, Tetrachlorethylene, and Vinyl Chloride. Some scientists call it the nation’s largest water contamination disaster, exposing more than one million civilians and military personnel.

    By granting victims who have been harmed by water contamination at Camp Lejeune the right to sue in federal court, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows them to recover a financial settlement for their injuries. The President signed a bill that Congress passed into law in August 2022.

    Among the tragic stories caused by the contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune are those of disabled veterans and widows of veterans. The Camp Lejeune water contamination survivors and the government’s inaction can now pursue compensation by filing water contamination lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

    Who Can File A Water Contamination Lawsuit?

    Exposure to water the government knew to be contaminated during the 1950s and 1980s increased the risk of illness for veterans and their families. A few health benefits programs are available to those with lasting adverse health effects.

    Veterans will now also be able to sue the government for civil damages under a law signed by the President on the 8th of August, 2022, called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (part of the PACT Act).

    VA disability compensation may be available to veterans who have suffered negative health outcomes due to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. A claim must be filed with VA on the proper form to qualify for this benefit. The VA Form 21-526ez will be used most often in water contamination cases.

    You will have to file a 21-0995 supplemental claim if you have filed a disability claim similar to the one you are claiming. You will also need to attach new evidence for VA to consider.

    Veterans Affairs will presume that you were exposed to contaminated water if you served at Camp Lejeune as an active service member, reservist, or member of the National Guard for at least 30 days between the 1st of August, 1953, and the 31st of December, 1987. Having this option allows you to avoid showing proof of exposure.

    You will also be presumed to have a water-related disability if you now suffer from one of the following impairments. In other words, you won’t have to provide any evidence aside from the fact that you were at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 consecutive days during the duration of the contamination.

    • Kidney cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    • Adult leukemia
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
    • Bladder cancer

    Disability compensation may still be available if you have a disability other than those listed here. Still, you’d have to show the VA your condition is likely not to be caused by your service.

    There is also the possibility that former Camp Lejeune residents and their family members may be able to receive VA healthcare or reimbursement for the following disabilities assumed to be caused by the contaminated water on the base.

    • Bladder Cancer
    • Breast Cancer
    • Esophageal Cancer
    • Female Infertility
    • Hepatic Steatosis
    • Kidney Cancer
    • Leukemia
    • Lung Cancer
    • Miscarriage
    • Multiple Myeloma
    • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
    • Neurobehavioral Effects
    • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and
    • Parkinson’s Disease

    Inferring Settlement Amounts

    To be eligible for a Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement, the person must have been at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between the 1st of August 1953 and the 31st of December 1987. They must have also suffered from some form of disability from the contamination of the water at the base.

    Since no lawsuits have yet been filed, no one can say with certainty what the settlement amount will be. Factors such as the length and nature of your stay on base all play a role in your claim. You may also receive compensation for the pain and suffering you endured due to your exposure, the income you lost due to your disability, and the medical expenses you incurred due to your treatment.

    Many settlements are expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. Court settlements usually include compensation for economic loss, pain, and suffering.

    It is possible to experience physical pain or psychological suffering, such as uncertainty, fear, and anguish. Aside from the obvious pain and suffering that all those affected by the contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune endured, there is no doubt that the contaminated water has resulted in severe diseases.

    Initially, there was concern about how much money would be allocated to the settlement fund. It appears that this case does not have a settlement fund. All settlements have become mandatory, not discretionary, under the federal government.

    A victim’s suffering, mainly caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, is difficult to estimate, especially when it involves severe medical conditions. Comparing similar injury cases to estimate case value is one of the ways lawyers estimate case value. 

    Expected Course Of The Lawsuit

    According to the law, claimants will have two years to bring water contamination cancer lawsuits or claim. Organized litigation will be presided over by a Federal Judge. This process aims to improve the efficiency of information exchange between parties.

    It is sometimes called discovery when information is exchanged in a legal proceeding. The government and lawyers will write several briefs and memorandums for the victims about how to interpret the law following discovery.

    During this phase, motions are filed. Bellwether trials are expected following the discovery and motions processes. While there are some claims that this is multi-district litigation, it is not one. Due to the nature of the case, it can be considered a single-district contaminated water lawsuit by definition.

    Organized litigation begins with a Bellwether trial. In addition, it helps both sides determine their respective strengths and weaknesses. A Bellwether trial usually ends with a verdict that sets the standard for similar trials. Bellwether trials will make settlements acceptable to both parties after the remaining cases are valued.

    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 file a claim for a Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement.

    To read about different types of disability and the associated cash compensation for the affectees of Camp Lejuene water contamination, check out the rest of our blogs at Gov Relations today.