Over more than three decades, an estimated one million military personnel, their families, and civilian workers were exposed to highly contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps Base in North Carolina. As the public became aware of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxins in the wells in the early 2000s, numerous studies were conducted about the health effects linked to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
For many victims, the studies that proved the extensive health conditions caused by exposure and the disability benefits that became available through Veterans Affairs weren’t enough and came far too late; countless veterans and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for a total of 30 or more days between 1953 and 1987 had already lost their lives, developed life-changing illnesses, and endured difficult treatments for their conditions.
Now, Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claims continue to overwhelm the Navy, which is tasked with resolving them within six months or face Camp Lejeune lawsuits if not. In September, an alternative resolution for victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune was introduced to speed up the payment process. The Camp Lejeune Elective Option (EO) payment plan is available to victims with specific health conditions. Kidney cancer is one of them, but why?
Research has shown that trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical found in the wells at Camp Lejeune, causes kidney cancer when people are repeatedly exposed to it. It’s likely that leaky underground storage tanks and spills at the Marine Corps Base are the source of TCE in the water – contaminated water that innocent people drank, cooked with, and bathed in for nearly 35 years and are now suffering from as a result.
With less than a year left to file a Camp Lejeune claim and more than one potential avenue for compensation, it’s essential for toxic exposure victims with kidney cancer to know their options. While you may file a claim on your own, an experienced attorney can help you with the process and determine the best way to be compensated. There are pros and cons of the elective Camp Lejeune payment plan, but it’s not for everyone, and filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit could provide better relief.
What is the Camp Lejeune Elective Option Payment Plan?
The Navy has received around 100,000 CLJA claims since the legislation was enacted in August 2022, and yet, in the first six months, they didn’t resolve a single claim. The overwhelming number of victims seeking justice and compensation for what happened at Camp Lejeune led the Department of Justice to create an elective option payment plan in September 2023.
The DOJ stated the alternative settlement option was created to resolve certain Camp Lejeune claims quickly, fairly, and openly. Nine presumptive conditions qualify for the Camp Lejeune elective option payment offer, five of which are considered Tier 1 and four under the Tier 2 structure.
The length of time a victim was exposed impacts the settlement offers for those with kidney cancer. However, the tiered rankings of conditions eligible for the Camp Lejeune EO don’t consider how an illness affects victims or even the severity of it. Instead, it’s based on research that links diseases to toxins. Since research shows a clear connection between the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and kidney cancer, survivors and families with loved ones who died from it are eligible for the elective option payment plan.
Kidney cancer is one of five presumptive conditions in the Tier 1 payment structure of the EO, which means victims may receive the highest payout, up to $450,000. Surviving families whose loved ones died from kidney cancer caused by water contamination at Camp Lejeune may seek an additional $100,000 for wrongful death.
The introduction of the EO payment plan has provided Camp Lejeune victims with an alternative way to be compensated for what happened. However, it also means that there is more to consider and understand.
The EO may provide quicker payments – something that’s not guaranteed at this point – but it won’t be the right option for every Camp Lejeune toxic water victim who developed kidney cancer or another qualifying disease. With so much on the line, knowing how to find the right Camp Lejeune lawyer is crucial to ensure the best outcome of your Camp Lejeune claim, lawsuit, or EO payment offer.
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in adults in the U.S., with approximately 82,000 people diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, it’s a common illness that many innocent people have suffered from after living or working at Camp Lejeune when the water was contaminated. Sadly, some have died from the disease.
The signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in urine
- Unexpected weight loss
- Pain in the back or side
- Loss of appetite
According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney cancer signs and symptoms don’t typically present in the early stages. Its causes are unknown, but there are risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing it, such as age, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history.
Most people with kidney cancer don’t experience symptoms until the cancer has advanced – the tumor grows significantly, becomes invasive, or spreads to other parts of the body. In many cases, it’s discovered accidentally through diagnostics used to test for other health problems.
Kidney Cancer Treatments and Outcomes
The earlier kidney cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcome. While diagnosing kidney cancer early and before it spreads gives patients a good chance to recover, not everyone gets lucky with an early diagnosis. A stage IV diagnosis has an extremely poor survival rate.
The type of treatment for kidney cancer depends on the patient’s unique situation. Doctors consider the grade of the tumor and stage of cancer, and the age and overall health of the patient when they make recommendations.
Kidney cancer treatments include surgery (full or partial removal of the kidney), ablation, radiation, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy. A combination of these may be used, and in some cases, patients are given chemotherapy.
Treating kidney cancer is hard on the body and emotionally difficult for patients and their families. Even with a good prognosis, cancer treatments have widespread effects. Many Camp Lejeune victims have endured difficult side effects of kidney cancer treatment – victims who may never have gotten sick if not for the toxic water on base. Survivors and families of loved ones who died deserve to be compensated.
Legal Options for Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Victims
The health effects of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune are still being felt today. Several cancers, infertility, birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious illnesses and conditions have been linked to the VOCs and other chemicals found in the water on base. Medical bills, pain and suffering, future costs, lost wages, and more may be sought through a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune may file a lawsuit for a few reasons: they’re unhappy with the government’s settlement offer, their claim is denied, or the government failed to contact them within the six months they’ve been given to resolve CLJA claims.
But a lawsuit is not the only option for Camp Lejeune toxic water victims. The new elective option payment plan offers payouts based on nine health conditions, including kidney cancer. Deciding the best action for justice and fair compensation is highly individual and should not be taken lightly.
Kidney cancer and other illnesses and conditions caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune affect people personally, professionally, and financially. Whether you have kidney cancer, survived it, or a loved one died from it, a Camp Lejeune attorney can help ensure you’re fairly compensated. There’s limited time to file a CLJA claim for your losses and the effect this tragedy has had on you and your family. The sooner you understand your options, the better, and don’t accept a settlement offer without consulting a lawyer.