Countless communities throughout America are negatively impacted by water contamination every year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 17,000 community water systems across the country suffered from federal water safety standards violations in 2020. The effects of these violations can be disastrous. Water contamination can cause cancer, learning disabilities, and infertility.
Victims of water contamination have several options. They may qualify for a lawsuit or federal benefits. Compensation could offset the costs of a medical condition caused by water contamination. Accessing compensation is a multi-step process. First, you should seek medical attention. Then, you can begin weighing your next steps with the help of an environmental justice lawyer.
Seek Medical Attention if You’ve Been Exposed to Water Contamination
If you believe that you were exposed to water contamination, seek medical attention. Many side effects of water contamination are long-term, like cancer or a learning disability. You may not know that you have a medical condition at first. By seeing a doctor, you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Seeing a doctor could bolster your pursuit of compensation, too:
- It provides documentation of your medical conditions
- It demonstrates that a certified doctor is aware of your medical conditions
- Medical records are often used in lawsuits or benefits claims
Water Contamination Health Outcomes
Water contamination comes in a variety of forms. When most think of water contamination, they describe waterborne illnesses like Legionella or Giardia. These types of conditions usually result in:
However, water contamination can also cause more serious health problems. These are the potential impacts of waterborne lead exposure, a leading factor in the Flint, MI, crisis:
- Developmental delay in children
- Learning disabilities in children
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can also cause various health conditions. These chemicals can be discharged by industry and eventually make their way into local water supplies. Synthetic chemical exposure may lead to the following:
- Various types of cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Therefore, it’s best to know what type of water contamination you’ve been exposed to. You may face a round of vomiting, or you may be at higher risk of developing cancer.
Understanding Your Type of Water Contamination Case
You need to know which approach you intend to use if you hope to receive compensation. Different types of cases have different eligibility requirements. You may qualify for a class action lawsuit and not know it. Researching your specific circumstances could be informative.
These are a few ways that victims of water contamination receive a settlement:
- Federal benefits
- An individual lawsuit
- A class-action lawsuit
- An out-of-court settlement
- An insurance claim
Below are two prominent water contamination case examples, one involves federal benefits, and the other entails a lawsuit.
Federal Benefits for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base located in North Carolina. In 1982, Marines discovered that the Camp’s water supply contained VOCs. Many of these VOCs were known carcinogens, exposing the Camp’s residents to cancer risk and other health risks.
In response, Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. This act provided complete medical coverage to those impacted by VOC exposure. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was placed in charge of distributing these benefits.
According to VA, to qualify for Camp Lejeune benefits, you must prove that:
- “You served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987, and”
- “You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge when you separated from the military.”
Then, you must show that you’re suffering from one of the qualifying conditions, which VA details as:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Family members who lived at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 may qualify for federal benefits, as well. VA provides further eligibility information on its website. A Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer can help you pursue benefits for a qualifying condition.
Water Contamination Lawsuit: Flint, MI
Benefits don’t apply to every water contamination case, though. Flint, MI, made headlines when residents discovered that their water supply was contaminated with lead. Thousands of residents were exposed to lead poisoning, and the children of Flint faced developmental issu
In response, the residents of Flint worked together to file a lawsuit against those responsible. In 2021, a class action lawsuit was approved by a federal judge for $600 million, according to The Washington Post.
Lawsuits operate differently than federal benefits claims. Typically, water contamination cases involve class-action lawsuits. This type of lawsuit involves a large group of plaintiffs called a “class.” A lawyer can assist you with participating in a class-action lawsuit.
Keep in mind that lawsuits don’t always necessitate civil trials. It’s possible to settle a lawsuit outside of court. This approach is often preferable and has the following benefits:
- It is typically less time-consuming
- It can be less adversarial than proceeding to trial
- Usually, it is less expensive than a trial
Working With a Water Contamination Lawyer
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we can support clients dealing with water contamination cases. As a legal team, our goal is to pursue fair compensation on your behalf. We’re prepared to stand up to whoever caused your medical condition. We could provide you with helpful legal insight. Contact our offices for a free case evaluation today.