U.S. military members expect their jobs to come with certain risks. Their priority is to serve and protect the people of the United States. But in this endeavor, the U.S. government must provide military personnel with the right tools and environment to succeed. It has been well documented that the water supply at Camp Lejeune, a Marine training base in North Carolina, contained harmful chemicals for more than 30 years.
Although much time has passed, veterans and their families are still discovering the full impact of their exposure to the tainted water supply. As of now, veterans and their families can apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Consulting with an attorney can help make this process easier. They can review your options and help you figure out your next steps.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
There are specific regulations and expectations for the water we use for bathing and drinking. Officials discovered and documented years ago that the water supply at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River had harmful chemicals. The people using the water did not know this for years.
These chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, pose health risks, particularly when people endure exposure in large amounts for prolonged periods.
Years later, people are still dealing with these health problems, and many want to pursue legal action to help cover the costs of these health problems. However, veterans have limited legal options because of North Carolina’s law, which restricts the period people can sue for their injuries.
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The Lasting Impact of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
Researchers have linked several health problems to the chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune, as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) highlights. However, not everyone exposed to these chemicals develops every health problem. It is different for each person. The health problems you develop will partly depend on the amount you were around and how long your exposure lasted.
For example, officials link certain types of cancers to trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. Some cancers exposed people are at risk for include:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
The chemicals can also cause birth problems in unborn babies and increase the risk of miscarriages. Other health problems that can develop include kidney problems, liver problems, and Parkinson’s disease. Based on the evidence of the health problems caused, there is an opportunity for help through the VA.
What Options Are Available to Help Those Impacted by Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination?
The VA offers health benefits and compensation for veterans who used the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The veterans must have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for a total of 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to qualify for these benefits. Veterans can get health benefits and compensation payments if they lived at Camp Lejeune during a certain time frame and have one or more specific health problems.
The VA also offers compensation to help cover health care costs for veterans’ family members who used the contaminated water. Family members must meet similar criteria, such as living at Camp Lejeune during a specific time frame and having particular health problems that the contaminated water may have caused.
How Can Consulting an Attorney Help Me?
Consulting with an attorney from our firm who handles disability benefits cases can be helpful. They can help you review your medical history and whether you qualify for benefits based on the VA guidelines. They will be aware of what laws apply to your case and how to go through the steps with the VA to apply for disability benefits.
They can also review any other legal options available to you and answer the questions you have along the way.
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Updates on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
In August 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 became law, allowing veterans and others affected by Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water supply can sue the government for the injuries and losses they endured from the toxic water supply at Camp Lejeune. Under the new law, veterans will have two years to file lawsuits against the government for compensation related to health problems from exposure to Camp Lejeune’s water, learn more – what are the health risks of Camp Lejeune water contamination?
Recent Camp Lejeune Updates
Since the law passed, thousands of claims have been filed concerning the water supply at Camp Lejeune. The U.S. Navy put the number somewhere around 5,000 claims, according to a September 2022 report from Reuters. These claims were sent to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, Virginia, according to the article.
Claimants still have time to file as they must do so within the next two years from the date the law was enacted. However, the deadline is Aug. 10, 2024, two years from the date President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law.
As of October 2022, it was estimated that more than 6,000 claims were filed. As of Oct. 6, 2022, a new Camp Lejeune lawsuit was filed, Douse v. United States (7:22-cv-176). Reportedly, this is the first case to come in since the cases that were filed after the law passed.
Illnesses Listed in Recently Filed Claims
In past years, various cancers and medical conditions have been linked to Camp Lejeune. Recently filed claims also link these medical conditions to the base, which is along the lines of what happened before. Present-day claims link lymphoma, breast cancer, kidney cancer and prostate cancer, to the base.
The claims reportedly come from plaintiffs who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, relatives of veterans who lived on the base, and those who worked at the base as well.
Start With a Free Consultation Today With Our Team
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we gladly help veterans affected by the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune. We want to work with you so that you can recover the benefits and compensation you and your family deserve.
Compensation can help pay your medical bills for treatment and other expenses related to your condition. We can meet with you during a free consultation today to get started. We are ready to help you.