Around one million military personnel, their families, and civilians who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base drank, cooked with, and bathed in severely contaminated water for years. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful chemicals that were discovered have been linked to serious health conditions, including many types of cancers, birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, and kidney disease.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has offered disability benefits and medical coverage for certain illnesses associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination for several years. However, victims could not seek compensation for pain and suffering and other damages – until now.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which became part of the Honoring Our PACT Act earlier this year, was signed by President Biden on August 10, 2022. It allows anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 or more days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and was exposed to the contaminated water to sue the government. Family members may also pursue a wrongful death claim if they lost a loved one who was exposed to the toxins.
There’s a lot to know about filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, including how to find the right lawyer to represent you. This post covers tips and strategies to find the best Camp Lejeune attorney for your water contamination lawsuit.
What to Consider When Hiring a Camp Lejeune Lawyer
A Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit can help hold the U.S. government responsible for the devastating effects of this tragedy. The government hid what happened for years and failed to protect those who lived and worked on the base. They should have known the dangers and risks of the improper disposal of solvents and other sources of contamination, and they were slow to act when toxins in the Camp Lejeune water wells were discovered.
It’s important to get your Camp Lejeune claim filed soon because victims of water contamination at the Marine Corps Base only have two years from the signing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. With this short window to make a claim, hiring the right law firm to represent you is vital.
Before hiring anyone, there are several questions to ask and things to consider to find a Camp Lejeune lawyer who will do everything they can to help you receive the proper compensation for your injuries.
Free Consultation: Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so don’t pay just to have an initial review of your Camp Lejeune case. Take advantage of the free consultations offered because the work a lawyer does for you is personal, and you need to be comfortable with and trust who you hire.
Bring a list of questions (keep reading for suggestions) and make sure you feel informed and confident in the lawyer’s abilities. Ask about communication with the lawyer and their team, such as how frequently you’ll be updated or consulted throughout the Camp Lejeune lawsuit process, from beginning to end. Also, ask what’s expected of you. What information will you have to provide to build a strong Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?
Legal Fees: The law firm you hire shouldn’t charge any fees up front. Instead, they should only get paid if you do. Their fees are usually a percentage of the settlement amount or jury award, and this should be clear in any contract or agreement you’ll be required to sign.
Related Experience: The expected influx of lawsuits now that the CLJA is law will have to prove the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune caused harm. They’ll have to show a connection exists or is “at least as likely as not” to exist between the illnesses suffered by plaintiffs and deaths that occurred. To do this, you need to find a Camp Lejeune lawyer who has experience with these types of cases.
All lawyers have areas of law they specialize in. These are commonly known as practice areas. The law firm you hire to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit should have experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving toxic exposure or water contamination.
These types of lawsuits require lawyers to know what evidence is needed, including medical documentation and expert witnesses, to back up your claim and be fairly compensated. Water contamination and toxic exposure are complex topics with legal intricacies. The lawyer representing you in a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit should have handled similar cases – and have the success stories that demonstrate their abilities.
Trial experience is another factor to consider when hiring a Camp Lejeune lawyer. Not all personal injury attorneys go to court, but your lawsuit could end up there, so you need someone with the experience and confidence to pursue a trial if a Camp Lejeune settlement isn’t reached.
Client Reviews: A benefit of the internet is the ability to see what other people’s experiences with a company or brand have been, including law firms and individual lawyers. While many firms have a testimonials page on their website, those reviews and client quotes will always be positive. They’re worth reading, but you should also head to Google or another search engine for reviews and see what else comes up about the firm you’re considering hiring.
Timeline: Because there’s only a two-year window for victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune to file a claim, the lawyer representing you must be able to start working on your case immediately. The sooner you can file your Camp Lejeune claim, the better.
Resources: The law firm you hire should take the necessary steps to build a strong case and get the compensation you deserve. During your free consultation, ask what resources the firm will leverage to position your Camp Lejeune lawsuit for success. This includes hiring expert witnesses and collecting the necessary evidence, like medical reports, that connect the harm suffered to exposure to volatile organic compounds or other toxins found on the base.
Contract Details: Ask any lawyer you consider hiring for your Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit to discuss the details of their client contract. They should be open and willing to answer any questions about the agreement. Make sure they’re clear about the legal fees you’ll owe (nothing up front and only if you settle or win your case). If you get the sense the lawyer is hiding something or is evading your questions, seek representation elsewhere.
Damage Amounts: An experienced attorney will consider many factors when determining how much compensation victims should seek. These include current/immediate financial needs for medical coverage, as well as how the harm you’ve suffered will impact your future. A Camp Lejeune lawsuit is about more than just medical bills; holding the government responsible involves being compensated for a wide range of damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost enjoyment of life.
Filing Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
You deserve to be compensated for the government’s actions or inactions that contributed to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune. Thanks to the passing of the PACT Act, military members, their families, and civilians exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune have two years to file a claim. Camp Lejeune Justice Act claims should be filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit. If the claim is denied or isn’t settled, victims can file a civil lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. You can still file a Camp Lejeune claim if you receive disability benefits and support from the VA.
Seek the advice and representation of a qualified attorney as soon as possible using the tips throughout this post to ensure you’re Camp Lejeune claim is filed correctly and you are adequately compensated.