January 23, 2023
personal injury

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and suffered from severe illnesses and other health complications, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Learn what happened to Camp Lejeune personnel and their families and how victims can strengthen their claims.

What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a military installation and training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It is known for being the garrison of the II Marine Expeditionary Force and the Marine Special Operations Command.

From 1953 through 1987, the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with high concentrations of toxic chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Although the water supply is estimated to have first been contaminated in 1953, the USMC did not discover evidence of elevated VOC levels until 1982. The most contaminated water supplies were shut down in February 1985.

Who Was Affected and What Health Problems Do They Face?

All residents of Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, including Marines and their families, were exposed to contaminated water. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), the number of potential victims may be as high as one million, making it one of the worst water contamination incidents in U.S. history.

Victims who drank and bathed using the contaminated water have developed a long list of medical conditions and complications.

Cancers

All four of the contaminants detected in the water are known carcinogens. Consequently, most of the victims developed one or multiple forms of cancer, including:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Soft tissue cancer

Other Conditions

Besides cancer, the high toxicity of the contaminants has also caused the following health complications for veterans and their families:

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Cardiac defects
  • Infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Leukemia
  • Miscarriages
  • Numerous life-altering neurobehavioral effects
  • Ocular defects
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

Do I Qualify for a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuit?

In March 2021, Congress introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 (CLJA), which was later included as part of the Honoring Our PACT Act and signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022.

CLJA allows those who stayed or lived on base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file a compensation claim and recover damages for exposure to the contaminated water.

Eligible groups include:

  • Veterans and their family members (excluding dishonorably discharged veterans).
  • Non-military base staff
  • Civilian contractors
  • The families of deceased victims

Victims and their families have two years from the Act’s passage, or until August 10, 2024, to file a CLJA claim. If you believe you or a loved one qualifies for this lawsuit, it is critical to follow the proper steps to ensure you can receive maximum compensation for your claim.

How Can a Victim Strengthen Their Case?

There are several things you can do to prove eligibility and strengthen your case.

Gather Proof of Residency

Proving a CLJA claim requires showing evidence that you were exposed to contaminated water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and suffered harm or medical complications.

The first step is to gather evidence to prove you lived or stayed at Camp Lejeune during this period. Valid records include the following:

  • Proof of residency
  • Enlistment documentation
  • Military Orders for assignment to Camp Lejeune
  • Discharge forms (including Form DD-214)

For civilian family members, you may need additional documentation proving your relationship with the veteran. This may include:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Military orders with family member’s names
  • Adoption certificate

Collect Medical Records

After collecting evidence proving you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune, you must obtain medical records and documentation showing the harm you suffered from exposure to contaminated water. Examples include the following:

  • Medical diagnosis reports
  • Copies of medical test and imaging results
  • Prescriptions
  • Proof of treatment or surgery
  • Other documented symptoms
  • Evidence of follow-up care

Work With an Attorney

While it may seem like you can file this claim independently, retaining an attorney can make the process easier and help you get the compensation you deserve. An attorney can:

  • Obtain the required documents to file your lawsuit. Tracking down all of these documents, including military orders from 40 years ago, can be complicated and time-consuming.
  • Calculate your possible damages. An experienced attorney can calculate the damages you may be entitled to and request an amount that is fair.
  • File your claim as well as seek additional disability or health coverage options. The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers disability benefits for eligible service members and, in some cases, the family members of those affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
  • Appeal possible denials. A lawyer can ensure a timely appeal if your initial claim is denied and understands the legal procedures for continuing to seek compensation.

Get Expert Legal Representation from The Vance Law Firm

The CLJA offers victims the possibility to file a claim and secure compensation for the damages, pain, and suffering they have endured and its impact on their lives. However, contaminated water lawsuits are complex, and proving your eligibility for compensation will take significant time and effort.

If you or a loved one was the victim of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, seek representation from the experienced water contamination lawyers at The Vance Law Firm as soon as possible. Our team has the knowledge, expertise, and resources to build your case, fight for your rights, and get a fair settlement.

To learn more about the Camp Lejeune Pact Act and to find out if you or a family member is eligible for financial compensation, reach out to us for a free consultation.

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