Water contamination can negatively impact the lives of those it affects. Some incidents of water contamination are minor, leading to flu-like symptoms, whereas others are more severe. In serious cases, victims can be left with lifelong medical conditions, like a learning disability or cancer.
Victims of water contamination can qualify for compensation, whether that’s through a lawsuit or government benefits. These forms of compensation can offset medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional damages. There are several types of settlements water contamination victims can receive.
Water Contamination Settlements: Lawsuits
Lawsuits can provide water contamination victims with several types of compensation, including:
- Medical care, including surgery, prescription medication, and assisted living devices
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Wrongful death damages if you lost a loved one
- Pain and suffering
Flint, Michigan, Case Example
In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River. The move was designed to reduce municipality costs and came with unintended consequences. The pipes leading from the Flint River were in disrepair, exposing the residents of Flint to lead poisoning. The symptoms of lead poisoning include:
- Developmental delays
- Hearing loss
- Premature births
- Mood disorders
- Joint and muscle pain
- Concentration and memory difficulties
Later, studies revealed that nearly half of Flint’s water supply had unsafe lead levels. Roughly 9,000 children were exposed to contaminated drinking water after the switch. Children experience the symptoms of lead exposure more acutely than adults, making learning disabilities became more common in Flint.
In response, the citizens of Flint banded together to file multiple class action lawsuits. Years later, in November of 2021, a lawsuit verdict was approved. As of 2022, the following parties have been ordered to give compensation to the businesses, families, and residents of Flint:
- State of Michigan: $600 million
- City of Flint: $20 million
- McLaren Regional Medical Center: $5 million
- Rowe Professional Services: $1.25 million
This story demonstrates that lawsuits can provide water contamination settlements to victims. If you have questions about the Flint class action lawsuit or about participating in a class action lawsuit, consider speaking with a water contamination lawyer.
How do Class-Action Lawsuits Work?
Water contamination usually impacts hundreds if not thousands of members of a population. Therefore, individual lawsuits are often inefficient in these cases. Instead, victims and their legal teams typically rely on class-action lawsuits. Put simply, class-action lawsuits are single lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs (an individual pursuing a lawsuit). Large class-action lawsuits can have thousands of plaintiffs.
These are the steps associated with filing a class-action lawsuit:
- Reviewing the case: Class-action lawsuits begin with a case review. During this period, an attorney will determine the who, what, and why of a legal case. If they believe that a class-action lawsuit is possible, they can move forward.
- Filing a lawsuit: Then, the attorney will begin filing a lawsuit. This entails notifying the defendant of their involvement in a lawsuit and identifying members of the “class” – those who were wronged by the defendant. In the Flint lawsuit, the residents of Flint who drank contaminated water were the “class” members.
- Settlement negotiations or civil trial: The next step is settlement negotiations. This involves either a civil trial or an out-of-court settlement. Once a settlement is reached, compensation will be split between members of the “class”.
Water Contamination Settlements: Benefits
Lawsuits aren’t the only type of water contamination settlements available to victims. In some cases, government benefits can provide relief by covering medical expenses and other damages.
Veterans Association (VA) Benefits for Camp Lejeune Victims
In 1982, the Marine Corp found that the water supply for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was contaminated with several volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The contamination period ran from 1953 to 1987. Exposure to these VOCs can cause a range of serious medical conditions, including cancer and infertility.
Many of these conditions are life-changing or fatal. To care for the Marines impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejeune, congress passed the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. This act allows the VA to cover the totality of Marines’ medical expenses, provided they were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987.
To qualify, a victim must be experiencing one of the eight presumptive conditions, including:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
These benefits can be accessed by military family members, as well. To qualify, they must also prove that they lived at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period. The VA’s website offers further information about claims and benefits eligibility.
Speak With a Water Contamination Lawyer Today
Water contamination cases are often complex. Lawsuits have several potential pitfalls and involve complex legal terminology. Benefits claims can be similarly troublesome if handling them on your own. A lawyer will be able to help you navigate difficult legal procedures and simplify them.
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we’ve worked on a variety of water contamination cases. If you believe that you suffered from water contamination, we can help. A lawyer from our firm can review your case and determine your eligibility. We can pursue a water contamination settlement on your behalf if we believe you have a case. Don’t delay any further by contacting our offices to get started today.