Marines and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune may have faced exposure to toxic water that substantially increased their risk of developing cancer and other conditions. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provides a means for victims and their families to pursue compensation for their injuries and losses.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 notes that any individual, including a veteran, who “resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.”
The bill lays out several key provisions.
The Burden of Proof
The Camp Lejeune Act of 2022 notes that the injured party will bear the burden of proof for showing the relationship between a condition or conditions developed by that individual and the water at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987.
During this time, the water at Camp Lejeune faced contamination by trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and other damaging VOCs or volatile organic compounds. Two major water treatment areas at Camp Lejeune faced contamination due to dangerous holding tanks leaking into the groundwater and spill off from a local dry cleaner.
The government acknowledges the connection between those dangerous substances and several common conditions, including:
- Adult leukemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Veterans who have developed other conditions related to exposure may also have the right to seek compensation. Working closely with an attorney can help increase their odds of establishing the link between those conditions and their exposure to that contaminated water.
To show the link between the condition and the exposure, veterans and their families, as well as civilian workers, will need to show that they spent at least 30 days living or working at Camp Lejeune during that specific period.
Health and Disability Benefits and Damages Related to Contaminated Water Exposure
Many veterans who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune may already have received considerable disability benefits or health support related to those conditions through the VA. They may have received ongoing disability benefits, Medicare or Medicaid assistance, or disability ratings through the VA related to toxic chemical exposure.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 notes that while patients who have already received those benefits still have the right to pursue additional compensation, they may have the amount of those damages lowered by the amount of compensation they already received through those government-sponsored programs.
What Compensation Can Veterans and Family Members Pursue Due to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 lays out the right of veterans, civilian workers, and their family members to pursue compensation for the damages they may have incurred due to their exposure to toxic contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987. It allows individuals impacted by that contaminated water to pursue compensation for the losses they sustained.
Compensation for Medical Costs
Medical costs related to treatment for conditions patients suffer due to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can increase substantially over time. Many costs may skyrocket depending on the length of treatment, especially if a patient needs to undergo ongoing treatment for one of those conditions.
Medical costs may include:
- Diagnostic costs. Often, patients will have generalized symptoms that can prove very difficult to identify fully. Patients may undergo considerable testing as they try to determine their condition. Furthermore, in cases like kidney, bladder, or liver cancer, doctors may want to ensure how much the condition has spread.
- Treatment costs. The cost of treatment for cancer and other devastating conditions related to toxic chemical exposure can rise exponentially, especially in cases where patients may need ongoing treatment. The longer the condition persists, the higher those treatment costs may grow.
- Care costs. Many patients with significant diagnoses may require in-home care or a long-term stay in a treatment facility as they recover from their injuries. In-home care costs may rise significantly for patients needing long-term care at home due to their sustained illness.
In many cases, veterans and their spouses may have received care through the VA for their diagnoses related to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The care covered by other government sources might count against the potential award provided by the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
However, civilian workers, children of service members, and some veterans and family members may not have received assistance with those treatment costs. Furthermore, many military workers and their spouses may have had additional care costs the VA or Medicare/Medicaid did not cover.
Many devastating diagnoses associated with the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may have made it difficult for patients to continue their usual work responsibilities during their recoveries. For some patients, that may have meant limited time at work. Other patients, however, may have found that they could not work during the treatment and recovery process or that their illnesses permanently prevented them from working in their prior industries.
Talk to a lawyer about the work you had to miss because of your diagnosis.
- Did you end up with an early discharge from the military because of your diagnosis? For example, many Marines facing a kidney or liver cancer diagnosis may have been discharged earlier than they intended. Sometimes, that may have meant missing out on retirement plans or pension payments.
- Did you have to miss time at a civilian job because of your diagnosis? In the case of some types of cancer, for example, patients may have ended up spending a long time out of work while recovering. Cancer treatments can take months, and many patients cannot work while undergoing cancer treatment due to weakness from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, a depressed immune system, or the need to remain in the hospital while undergoing treatments.
- Did you spend time out of work due to your diagnosis, including working on a limited schedule? For example, some cancer patients may choose to drop to a part-time schedule due to their illnesses.
- Did you have to retire early or miss out on long-term employment opportunities because of your diagnosis?
Your lawyer can help give you a better idea of how much compensation you can claim for the time you had to miss at work because of your diagnosis.
Pain and Suffering
As part of your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 notes that you may have the right to claim compensation for the suffering you faced due to your diagnosis. The suffering you experienced can vary depending on the specific challenges you faced with your diagnosis and recovery.
Many patients found themselves dealing with substantial losses, including:
- Overall loss of independence
- Suffering related to the condition itself
- Suffering related to treatment for that condition
- Changed relationships with friends and loved ones because of the diagnosis
Talk to your lawyer about the challenges you may have faced because of your diagnosis and how you can best include those non-financial losses as part of your compensation claim.
Cancer survival rates can depend on the individual and how long it takes to diagnose the individual’s condition. For example, patients with kidney cancer generally have a 93 percent survival rate at the five-year mark. If kidney cancer spreads to the surrounding organs, on the other hand, the five-year survival rate drops to 71 percent. On the other hand, the five-year survival rate for liver cancer hovers around 20 percent, with an increased survival rate for patients diagnosed before the cancer has a chance to spread through the body.
If you lost a loved one to a cancer diagnosis that occurred because of toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act may allow you to file a claim for the financial and non-financial losses your family experienced.
In addition to claiming compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, you may have the right to claim compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The suffering caused by the loss of your loved one
- The loss of services your loved one might otherwise have performed for the family
Talk to your lawyer about the compensation you might have the right to claim as part of the wrongful death claim, including how you can best put together a claim that reflects all the losses associated with your loved one’s diagnosis.
How Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 Apply to You, and What Should You Do Next?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 notes that anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, has the right to claim compensation for a diagnosis caused directly by exposure to toxic chemicals in the water.
That might include a number of individuals including:
- Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, including both those that chose to live on base and those who may have lived off base but who worked on the base during their period of service
- Military spouses and children who lived at Camp Lejeune with their family members
- Civilian workers who worked on the base during that period
- Children of service members conceived while the mother lived or worked at Camp Lejeune
If doctors diagnosed you with a condition or you lost a loved one because of toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, you may pursue compensation.
2. Confirm Your Diagnosis With a Medical Care Professional and Obtain a Copy of Your Records.
To file a claim for compensation through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, you must show that you have a diagnosis related to your time at Camp Lejeune. In most cases, you will need a diagnosis on the list, including liver or kidney cancer, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, or Parkinson’s disease, to seek compensation.
However, if you have another condition that you believe may have resulted from your exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune during that period, you may still pursue compensation. Have your doctor provide documentation of your diagnosis and any associated conditions or medical care needs.
2. Get in Touch With a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer.
An attorney can prove essential when filing a compensation claim.
An attorney can offer a number of advantages as you move forward with your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim including:
- A lawyer can ensure you know all the areas where you deserve compensation.
- A lawyer can put together a comprehensive claim that showcases all the losses you faced because of your diagnosis and your service at Camp Lejeune.
- A lawyer can help ensure that you get all your paperwork completed and filed properly the first time, which can reduce the odds that you will have your claim denied or delayed.
If you suffered a devastating diagnosis due to your exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, don’t wait to reach out to a lawyer to learn more about what comes next. Contact an experienced Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer to discuss how to pursue the compensation you deserve.