People who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were exposed to contaminated water supplies between 1953 and 1987. As a result, thousands of people have suffered severe illnesses, including esophageal cancer. While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has tried to provide financial remedies to qualifying claimants under the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, approval rates are low, leaving many people struggling to cope physically and financially.
However, Congress recently passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, allowing some victims harmed by the camp’s contaminated water to file a lawsuit against the government. If you or someone you know developed esophageal cancer through Camp Lejeune contamination, our class action lawyers could help you build your case. Then, we’ll fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Was in the Water At Camp Lejeune?
Data from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that nearly one million people may have suffered exposure to contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune over 34 years. As a result, thousands of servicemembers, their families (including infants exposed during pregnancy), and civilians who worked at the camp have suffered from severe and debilitating illnesses.
According to the ATSDR, leaking underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites contaminated three water distribution plants serving Camp Lejeune between 1950 and 1985. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was the primary contaminant, with maximum levels detected in the drinking water of 1,400 parts per billion (ppb). The current safe limit for TCE in drinking water is five ppb. Other contaminants detected included:
- Vinyl chloride
Scientific and medical evidence has shown an association between the contaminants listed and the development of esophageal cancer and other illnesses and diseases. Esophageal cancer affects the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Possible symptoms include:
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- A persistent cough
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding that leads to fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing
New Legislation Brings Hope for Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Contaminated water has harmed thousands of people who worked and resided at Camp Lejeune. Documents from 1980 identified dangerous levels of water contamination, yet officials continued to do nothing to protect the health of the people who lived and worked at the camp.
Congress enacted the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 to address this issue, providing free healthcare benefits for specific conditions. Our legal team has evaluated claims filed under this law to determine if victims qualify under the following three criteria:
- The injured party was on active duty at Camp Lejeune during the specified period (1953 to 1987)
- The injured party was exposed to the contaminated water supply for 30 days or more (can include periodic exposure) during this time
- The injured party has a qualifying condition (including esophageal cancer)
The recently passed Camp Lejeune Justice Act provides additional protections for military personnel and their family members who suffered terribly from exposure to toxic water at the camp. It allows them to bring suit against the federal government in the Eastern District of North Carolina and permits family members to claim on behalf of a deceased family member.
How Camp Lejeune Contamination Victims Qualify for Compensation
Military personnel, civilian workers, and family members stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 automatically qualify for compensation or VA healthcare benefits. That’s because the 2012 law requires the VA to presume an in-service injury connection for anyone diagnosed with esophageal cancer who served at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Represent Me in a Camp Lejeune Contamination Claim?
Injured parties must demonstrate a link between their injuries and the damages they suffered (known as proving causation). However, while there is no requirement for you to hire legal representation, proving causation can be challenging—even with the VA’s presumption of causation for Camp Lejeune contamination victims.
Our trial lawyers will draw on their previous experience and fight for recoverable awards in federal court that were not available in the 2012 law. Those awards include:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent injury
- Emotional damages
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
We will help you gather the evidence required to seek the justice and compensation you and your family deserve, including medical and service records and medical bills. Keep in mind that you can still file if you currently receive benefits from the VA or other Social Security programs for exposure-related illnesses at the camp. In addition:
- You must file your lawsuit within two years of the statute’s enactment
- You must exhaust all administrative options for compensation before filing
- You have 180 days after your final denial to file in court, even if the two-year limitations period has passed
How Much Will It Cost to File My Camp Lejeune Contamination Case?
We understand how a devastating illness can affect you and your family financially. However, we also believe everyone should be able to access the justice system. As a result, we provide our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This pay structure means we fund the cost of building and pursuing your case and only recover our fees upon obtaining a favorable outcome. So, if you don’t recover compensation, you owe us no attorney’s fees.
How do I Get Started With My Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case?
If you or a family member has developed esophageal cancer due to Camp Lejeune contamination, the legal team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, stands committed to pursuing justice and compensation on your behalf.
If you have questions or want to check whether you have a case, contact us for a free no-obligation consultation. We can review your situation and explain your legal rights and options under current law.