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What Legal Options Are Available for Those Who Died from Camp Lejeune Toxic Water?

More than 93,000 Camp Lejeune toxic water claims have been filed with the Navy since August 2022, but they’ve only begun to process 17,000 of them. Once a claim is submitted, the Navy has six months to resolve it. If they don’t, or if they deny the claim or don’t offer an adequate amount within 180 days, victims may file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. Since the Navy has delayed resolving claims, lawsuits for illnesses and deaths caused by toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune are quickly piling up.

At the military base, an estimated one million people were exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals dangerous to human health for more than three decades. A steady influx of lawsuits is expected to be filed right up until the deadline on August 10, 2024.

water faucet attached to a concrete wall

But as the number of Camp Lejeune injury claims grows, so do the wrongful death claims. With the backlog and slow response to claims, many Camp Lejeune toxic water victims are dying before their claim is resolved. In recent months, victims have died from lung cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, and kidney failure as they were waiting for a response to their claim.

Unfortunately, with the seriousness of illnesses from the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, more and more victims will die before they see justice or compensation. When this happens, toxic exposure claims and lawsuits change to wrongful death.

Then there are those who died decades ago. After all, there were harmful chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune beginning in 1953. Many former residents and workers who were exposed weren’t even notified until 1999, long after they were diagnosed with or died from an illness caused by the contaminants.

The number of victims who lost their lives before any legal avenues were available is unknown, but surviving families may seek compensation through a Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claim. As long as the victim qualifies, spouses or children of the deceased should follow the Camp Lejeune claims process to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one.

With an extensive list of health conditions and illnesses associated with the toxic water found in the wells at the military base in North Carolina, the lawsuits filed against the U.S. government are far from unexpected; lung, bladder, breast, liver, and esophageal cancer, cardiac, and birth defects, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, and myelodysplastic syndromes are just some of the health effects of water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

It’s important to understand the claims process and how to find a Camp Lejeune lawyer. Families of deceased victims have rights, just like those still living and have suffered or are currently suffering health complications from their time on base. Consulting with a toxic exposure attorney can help get the best results from a CLJA claim or lawsuit, not to mention that filing requirements and deadlines are met.

How to File a Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Family members who lost a loved one due to a health condition caused by exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune must follow the same process to seek damages as living victims. If your loved one lived or worked on base for 30 or more days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, including while in utero, you can file a claim on their behalf.  

The first step is filing a CLJA claim with the Navy JAG Office. The form requires specific details to be provided, such as your name and that of the deceased, attorney information, where the deceased lived on base, if they were a civilian or member of the military, the diagnosed illness or condition, and how much the damages and injury is worth.

The Navy has six months after submission to resolve all types of claims. If they don’t – they fail to process or deny the claim, or the compensation offered isn’t sufficient – victims may then file a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government thanks to the Honoring Our PACT Act.

On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Honoring Our PACT Act, which included the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Immediately following this long-awaited milestone, CLJA claims began to pile up. There have been significant delays in Camp Lejeune claims due to funding and staff shortages, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from filing.

Before the new legislation, those who had suffered or died from the contaminated water at the military base had no legal recourse to hold the government responsible due to the statute of limitations. Now, an overwhelming number of victims can finally seek compensation for what happened.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Update

Plaintiffs who have filed Camp Lejeune lawsuits claim that the government knew or should have known about the toxic water. At the very least, they confirmed the presence of harmful chemicals in wells that residents and workers drank, bathed in, and cooked with during the early 1980s, yet it still took several years for them to be shut down.

As of August 2023, no Camp Lejeune lawsuit has gone to trial. It’s a long process that makes filing a claim on time crucial. While there’s been little headway on resolving claims and moving forward with trials, it’s estimated that Camp Lejeune settlements and jury awards will amount to more than $6 billion over the next ten years.

Recently, the four judges of the Eastern District of North Carolina who are overseeing the Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits created a team of lawyers who will propose settlement levels for the health conditions caused by toxic water at the military base. They’ll also be handling the bellwether cases – test cases, so to speak – that reflect a group of similar Camp Lejeune cases and act as a way to determine how future cases may play out. The bellwether trials will reveal the evidence and arguments from both the plaintiffs and defendants and the level of compensation that may be awarded to victims.

Why You Need a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer

Innocent veterans, their families, and workers have suffered serious and fatal health conditions due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Whether a loved one died, you’re currently suffering, or were previously diagnosed with a health condition caused by toxic exposure on base, a water contamination claim can help recover compensation for this tragedy. However, there are strict Camp Lejeune filing deadlines and requirements that must be met.

In fact, all CLJA claims, as well as personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, must be filed by August 10, 2024. After this date, victims and their families will not be able to be compensated by the Navy or sue the government for what happened at Camp Lejeune.

A lawyer can not only ensure that claims are submitted on time and file lawsuits, but they can also help collect documentation, medical records, and other evidence to demonstrate the extent to which the toxic water at Camp Lejeune has impacted victims and their families. After all, the effects of the associated illnesses and conditions are widespread and harm more than a victim’s physical health; there are short and long-term effects on emotional and mental health, financial strain from medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, mental anguish from losing a loved one, and more.

In addition, many Camp Lejeune water contamination claims involve more than one health condition. Numerous victims have suffered and died from multiple illnesses, and the pain of surgeries, chemotherapy, and other treatments is difficult to put a dollar value on. This is another area a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawyer can help.

If you’re unsure if the contaminated water on base caused the death of a loved one, there’s a complete list of health effects on the CLJA claims form. But consulting with a Camp Lejeune lawyer can help ensure your rights are protected and that fair compensation is paid.

It’s past time for victims to get justice and hold the government financially responsible for what happened. If you’ve lost a loved one or suffered any health effects caused by the VOCs and other chemicals discovered at Camp Lejeune, you must act now. Find a Camp Lejeune lawyer and file a water contamination claim as soon as possible.