Established in 1952 in North Carolina, countless military personnel have lived and worked at Camp Lejeune. When constructed, it was a state-of-the-art training center for U.S. Marines. Camp Lejeune is home to active-duty military, their families, veterans and civilian employees. It is an entire community, including everything anyone in the area would need to live, work and play. Camp Lejeune was also home to contaminated water. Those who used the severely contaminated water to cook, bathe and drink were exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals. These chemicals have led to serious and chronic health conditions. In some cases, children and adults have died.
With the passing of new legislation, people who are suffering from illnesses associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination and the loved ones of people who have died from these diseases can now seek compensation from a government that failed to protect them. The Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), was signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act gives military members, their families and civilians who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune the right to file a civil lawsuit and hold the government accountable for devastating health conditions due to the toxic water. It’s estimated that more than one million people used the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Who Is Eligible to File a Camp Lejeune Claim?
Anyone exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, and has suffered injuries due to exposure (including in utero exposure) may file a Camp Lejeune claim. Camp Lejeune claims are filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit (TCU). Individuals have two years to file a CLJA claim. If a claim is denied and a settlement is not reached, a Camp Lejeune civil lawsuit can be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The new bill allows Camp Lejeune water contamination victims or their families to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim to recover compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs and lost wages. A personal injury claim is a bodily injury sustained by the claimant due to negligence. A wrongful death claim is where the claimant who suffered a personal injury has died. Wrongful death claims must be brought by the estate of the claimant.
Making a Camp Lejeune claim will not impact any benefits or programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You can still file a claim even if you received health care for Camp Lejeune illnesses from the VA. However, any damage awards for Camp Lejeune water contamination made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, will be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representatives, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance programs, or Veterans Affairs Disability programs.
There is a limited window in which a Camp Lejeune lawsuit can be filed, and the legal process can be complicated. Consulting an attorney with experience in Camp Lejeune legislation can ensure the proper legal steps are taken promptly.
Health Conditions for Filing Camp Lejeune Lawsuits
Exposure to chemicals in the contaminated water sources at Camp Lejeune can contribute to a host of severe and potentially fatal health conditions. Symptoms of these conditions may not have appeared for some time after the initial exposure. Illnesses that have been associated with contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include:
- Aplastic anemia
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Cardiac defects
- Esophageal cancer
- Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
- Kidney cancer
- Adult & Childhood Leukemia
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma (a cancer of plasma cells)
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Other Kidney diseases
- Parkinson disease
- Renal disease
- Systematic Sclerosis/Scleroderma (an autoimmune connective tissue and rheumatic disease that causes inflammation in the skin and other areas of the body.)
In addition to these health conditions, birth defects, stillbirths, miscarriages and neurobehavioral effects have also been reported. It’s estimated that hundreds of babies died in utero or at birth because their mothers were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
When making a Camp Lejeune personal injury or wrongful death claim, you will need to have a medical diagnosis explaining the nature and extent of each injury or cause of death. If you are unsure if you qualify to file a Camp Lejeune claim, consulting a Camp Lejeune lawyer with experience in Camp Lejeune cases could be beneficial in navigating the claims process and determining whether you are eligible for compensation.
After years of exposure to deadly water contamination, veterans, their families and civilian employees are finally starting to see legal avenues to explore, despite decades of health conditions. It’s about time they can all seek justice for exposure to harmful water contamination and the lifetime of resulting health conditions. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a huge step toward justice and accountability.