While there may be compensation available through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there have not been any Camp Lejeune lawsuit settlements as of April 2022. Federal law has stopped these lawsuits from moving forward. However, there could soon be a way to take action against the U.S. Marine Corps and other liable parties, thanks to a bill currently under consideration.
On March 3, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow those who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 to file a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Northern Carolina. These claims could allow service members and their families to pursue an award for expenses, losses, pain and suffering, emotional damages, a family member’s wrongful death, and other damages.
Who Will be Able to Participate in a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
If the legislation passes and Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits are allowed, those who can join in the legal action will likely include:
- Service members exposed to contaminated water who later developed a related condition
- Family members who lived on base and have a related diagnosis
- Those who previously faced a related condition
- Those who lost a loved one to one of the linked diseases or disorders
- Those who could face related health concerns in the future
Though it is still disallowed by federal law as of April 19, 2022, we are hopeful that we can soon move forward with lawsuits on behalf of people hurt by the Camp Lejeune water contamination. We will seek monetary awards for those we represent in these cases as soon as possible. We are watching the legislation closely as it moves through Congress.
What Is the Issue with Camp Lejeune and Its Water Supply?
Some service members and their families were exposed to high levels of contaminants in the water supply on base between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Because the entire water supply was contaminated, people on the base used this water for:
- Washing clothes
- Other activities
Exposure to these toxins could have affected thousands of people, since it continued for more than 30 years. This contamination affected both:
- Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina
- Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this occurred because two on-base water wells were contaminated by leaking storage tanks on-base and an off-base dry cleaner. The known chemicals in this water included:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
Scientific research on the effects of this exposure has shown links to more than a dozen diseases and conditions. Those health effects that are proven to have an association with the contaminated water are presumed conditions for VA benefits for those who served at Camp Lejeune. Others could be added to this list as research continues.
Who Qualifies for Benefits Through the VA?
While there is no way to file a lawsuit and receive a settlement as of April 2022, veterans and their affected family members could qualify for benefits through the VA. Usually, there are three things a veteran must demonstrate to get VA disability:
- Their diagnosis
- An in-service injury, exposure, or illness
- A link between the diagnosis and their service
However, the VA has rules in place that presume exposure and the development of certain health conditions for those who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between 1953 and 1987. This means these veterans do not have to demonstrate an in-service injury or link when filing their claim for disability.
The presumed conditions include:
- Esophageal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
Family members who lived on base or at this station may also be able to get reimbursement of their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses and other benefits if they have one of the above diagnoses.
To get VA disability or healthcare benefits for family members, you will need evidence to show:
- You lived at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
- You were there for at least 30 days.
- You had or have one of the conditions listed above and are undergoing treatment for the condition or were treated for it.
- You developed the condition after your exposure to the water at one of these locations.
Discuss Your Options with Ben Crump Law, PLLC for Free Today
You should not have had to go through a preventable health condition because the U.S. Marine Corps failed to protect you and your family from contaminated water. At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we can help. We will help you appeal a VA claim denial, and we hope to soon begin filing lawsuits based on Camp Lejeune water contamination. Connect with us today to learn more about your options.