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Determining Eligibility and Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Hundreds of thousands of people lived on the Camp Lejeune military base from 1950 through 1980, not knowing that the water distribution systems there were contaminated. Many veterans, family members, and civilians were later diagnosed with various health conditions that may have resulted from that exposure.

A new law passed in August 2022 allows Camp Lejeune victims to file claims against the government. The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT) of 2022 includes a provision known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA), which specifically addresses the potential legal claims of those who lived at Camp Lejeune.

Weren’t Camp Lejeune victims already suing the government before this law? Yes, but the new law makes it easier for claimants to prove liability and get compensation for their injuries. In addition, those with claims previously rejected under the federal tort law may now be able to file again.

What Kind of Compensation is Specified by the Act?

The compensation available for Camp Lejeune lawsuits under CLJA may cover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages apply to expenses like medical costs, lost income and earning capacity, and future medical treatment. Non-economic damages refer to the type of harm that is harder to put a monetary figure on, like pain and suffering.

The compensation a claimant is entitled to will depend on several factors, such as the:

  • length of exposure
  • specific illness or disease
  • amount of medical expenses
  • claimant’s age, and
  • other out-of-pocket expenses

Any damages the claimant receives will be reduced by Medicare or Medicaid or VA payments received for any Camp Lejeune disabilities or health issues. An attorney with experience in Camp Lejeune cases is the best source of specific information about the damages you may be entitled to.

How Does One Know if they are Eligible to File?

A claimant can file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit under the CLJA if:

  1. They were exposed to water at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and
  2. They suffered injuries due to the exposure.

A person can also file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if they had a family member who lived on the base and passed away due to one of the diseases associated with water contamination.

For the government to be held responsible, the claimant has to provide evidence showing that the exposure to the contaminated water was related to the harm suffered. Some diseases commonly associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination are:

  • Leukemia
  • bladder, kidney and liver cancers
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • end-stage renal disease
  • cardiac birth defects
  • multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • scleroderma

This list may not be complete. If diagnosed with an illness after exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune, it’s in your best interest to consult an attorney for more information.

How to File a Claim

The first step in getting compensation under the CLJA is to file a claim with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the U.S. Navy’s Tort Claims Unit at Norfolk, Virginia. If the JAG accepts the claim, the case will not need to progress further. If the JAG denies the claim, the next step is to file a federal Camp Lejeune lawsuit. Under federal law, the JAG’s failure to make a final ruling on a claim within six months may be treated as a denial.

Camp Lejeune Injuries also Qualify for VA Benefits

The requirements to qualify for VA benefits due to Camp Lejeune water contamination are similar to those under the CLJA. Eligible parties include Veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard who either served at Camp Lejeune or the nearby Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Those seeking benefits must have served at one of these facilities for 30 days or more between August 1953 and December 1987. They cannot pursue benefits if they received a dishonorable discharge.

According to the VA, eight conditions qualify a claimant for health care and disability compensation due to their exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. The claimant has to present medical records showing a diagnosis for one of the following conditions:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Bladder, kidney or liver cancer
  • Aplastic anemia or other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Family Members can also get VA Benefits

Veterans and their family members may be entitled to reimbursement for their out-of-pocket health care costs for 15 conditions set out by the VA. These conditions include:

  • bladder, kidney, lung, breast or esophageal cancer
  • Leukemia
  • multiple myeloma or myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Female infertility or miscarriage
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • hepatic steatosis
  • renal toxicity
  • scleroderma, and
  • neurobehavioral effects

The family member must show several pieces of evidence when seeking benefits. First, they must prove how they are related to the veteran who served active duty at Camp Lejeune. They can do this with a marriage license, birth certificate, adoption papers or other relevant documentation.

Second, they must show that they lived in the relevant bases for 30 days or more between August 1953 and December 1987. They can use base housing records, utility bills, tax forms and military orders as proof.

Lastly, they must present medical records showing they have one of the 15 conditions listed, the date the illness was diagnosed, and that they are being or have been treated for it. They also need to prove that they paid health care expenses for the claimed condition between Jan. 1, 1957, and Dec. 31, 1987, or between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1956.

The VA recommends that those seeking benefits ask their doctor to complete and sign a Camp Lejeune treating physician report (VA Form 10-10068b). Although not required, it can be helpful to the VA when determining your eligibility for benefits.

When ready to file their claim, family members will fill out an application (VA Form 10-10068) and fax it or mail it to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Austin, Texas.

Action Matters can help you get the help you need to pursue fair compensation. All you need to do is fill out the form on this page right now.

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