Were You Exposed to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?
Those who sacrifice their own safety and well-being to defend our country deserve to be protected themselves. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you served at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for a period of at least 30 uninterrupted days between August of 1953 and December of 1987, you were exposed to contaminated water and may have developed a debilitating illness as a result. In fact, if you served during this time and have any of a fairly long list of conditions, it is presumed to have been caused by the exposure, and you are entitled to VA disability benefits and legal remedies as a result. If you believe this may be you, the Fort Lauderdale Mass Tort Lawyers at BK Law can help you file a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit. In this article, we will give you the information that you need to determine whether you are entitled to coverage and compensation.
What to Know About Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Testing of the wells which supplied water to everyone on base revealed that between August 1953 and December 1987, the water contained a number of toxins and chemicals including Trichloroethylene, Mercury, Vinyl chloride, and Benzene, among other substances and chemical waste. The presence of the toxins in the water for a period of over 30 years suggests gross negligence by several different parties. These toxins have been linked to a number of serious conditions, which have afflicted not only service members, civilian employees, reservists, and guardsmen, but also their family members and descendents. It is estimated that over a million people were affected by this contamination, and if you served during this time period, it is likely that you are one of them.
What Medical Conditions Does Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cause?
- Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
- Bladder Cancer.
- Liver Cancer.
- Esophageal Cancer.
- Kidney Cancer
- Male Breast Cancer. A CDC study found a causal link between certain contaminants in the water and the occurrence of male breast cancer in those exposed.
- Prostate Cancer.
- Hepatic steatosis
- Ovarian and Cervical Cancer.
- Female Infertility.
- Miscarriages. Miscarriages were common in women exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
- Leukemia. Adult leukemia in those exposed, as well as childhood leukemia in their children have both been linked to chemicals in the contaminated water.
- Lung Cancer.
- Mercury Poisoning. The chemicals and toxins found in the Camp Lejeune water wells are incredibly toxic. Over 12 pounds of elemental mercury were found at one of the water treatment sites at Camp Lejeune which is more than enough to cause mercury poisoning and symptoms ranging from nausea and headaches to kidney damage.
- Birth Defects. A study by the CDC found that women who consumed the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were four times more likely to give birth to children with birth defects. One of the most common birth defects suffered was spina bifida and spinal disfigurement. The study also found that infants born to these mothers were more likely to develop leukemia and other cancers during childhood.
- Multiple Myeloma.
- Myelodysplastic Syndromes.
- Neurobehavioral Issues.
- Aplastic anemia.
- Parkinson’s Disease.
- Renal failure and renal toxicity.
Camp Lejeune Legislative Updates
Despite this contamination having been ongoing for over 30 years, the government just passed a new legislative act to address the wrongful harm. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is meant to ensure that everyone who suffered harm as a result of the toxic water contamination has grounds to bring a claim and receive benefits and compensation. In order to receive VA benefits and compensation for any resulting conditions under the Camp Lejeune Act, you must be able to prove that you served at Camp Lejeune for an uninterrupted period of at least 30 days at some point between August 1953 and December 1987. You must also be able to provide documentation showing that you or a family member have one of the covered conditions. Finally, you must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military. If you are unsure whether you meet the criteria to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, talking to a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options.
Presumptive Conditions for Disability Benefits
Although the water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been linked to dozens of health conditions at this point, the VA has a shorter list of conditions that they will automatically presume were caused by the water contamination without any further review or consideration, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements. These conditions that will allow for automatic coverage, benefits, and compensation, include:
- Leukemia (developed in adulthood by the exposed person).
- Bladder Cancer.
- Kidney Cancer.
- Liver Cancer.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes, including aplastic anemia.
- Parkinson’s Disease.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Again, VA disability coverage is not limited to these conditions. You can still receive benefits and compensation for approximately 15 other conditions; however, the connection will not automatically be assumed and will require review. The conditions above entitle you to automatic disability coverage.
What Disability Benefits Does a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim Entitle Me to?
If you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, you were exposed to water containing toxic substances at Camp Lejeune and may have developed a disabling condition, such as various forms of cancer, as a result. If the VA approves your claim, you will be entitled to healthcare and compensation for the health defects or medical conditions that you suffered. The compensation is intended to reimburse you for costs related to medical treatment for the conditions caused by water toxicity.
How Do I Get Disability Benefits for these Conditions?
If you meet the eligibility criteria for VA benefits coverage, you can file a claim online or in person at the VA. You will be required to provide documentation showing that you served at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987 for at least 30 days and that you were not dishonorably discharged from the military. This may take the form of service orders, an enlistment record, or a housing agreement or lease. You will also need to provide documentation of one of the presumptive conditions that is covered. This can be in the form of medical records. You can file the claim yourself or with the assistance of an attorney. If you have one of the 15 non-presumptive conditions, you can file a claim by completing the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Treating Physician Report, also known as VA Form 10-10068b. You will have to submit a medical record or proof of the date of diagnosis as well as records of any treatments that were done as a result. A lawyer can provide guidance in how best to complete and submit your claim under the Camp Lejeune Act.
Can My Family Members Get Disability Benefits?
Family members of Camp Lejeune Service Members, including both those who lived with them on base and those who were born to them, are eligible for compensation and disability benefits from the VA. In order to qualify they must show that they are related to or lived with a service member who served at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987 for a period of at least 30 consecutive days. This can take the form of a birth certificate or other documentation.
You may also be able to show proof that you resided at Camp Lejeune with items such as a housing agreement or lease. You will then have to complete the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Treating Physician Report, (VA Form 10-10068b). This will require medical documentation of the date you were diagnosed with one of the eligible conditions, as well as medical records showing any treatment that was done to treat the condition and any treatment that is ongoing.
Can I Sue for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Yes. In addition to having grounds on which to gain compensation and disability benefits from the government, victims of water contamination have the ability to bring a Camp Lejeune lawsuit or join a mass tort action against those liable for the ongoing contamination. Many soldiers have testified that they complained about the water and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, vision problems, and metallic taste, which went ignored by military officials. It is believed that military officials actively worked to conceal the water toxicity issues and failed to warn soldiers or take action to remedy the issue.
It has also been alleged that the two water plants responsible for supplying water containing chemical substances and waste were aware that the water was contaminated and failed to take action to fix it. This makes these parties liable for the harm that resulted. Their actions to conceal and their failure to warn constitutes a breach of the reasonable duty of care owed to everyone on that base, and many of those people have been suffering generations of medical problems and birth defects as a result. This means that they are liable for this harm, and can be held legally and financially accountable under the Camp Lejeune Act..
If you worked or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days straight during the 30+ years of contamination, you, your family members, and your children may have suffered any number of medical issues and health problems, and you deserve to be made financially whole and to hold the responsible parties accountable in court.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
The purpose of a Camp Lejeune lawsuit is to restore a victim of someone else’s negligence to the position they would have been in financially had the injury not occurred. In order to be made financially whole, you will receive compensation for all costs incurred as a result of the condition you developed due to the water contamination. This includes compensation for the cost of all medical treatments, as well as any income that was lost as a result of your disability. This can apply if you were unable to work for a period of time due to a medical condition caused by the contamination, or a loss of income potential if you were unable to continue working or return to working at the same level.
You are also entitled to pain and suffering for the physical and emotional harm caused by the disability you developed due to their negligence. This amount is generally calculated based on the total amount of economic damages that you incurred, as well as the permanence and severity of the injury. Because so many factors go into determining the amount of damages, the best way to get an accurate estimate of what your claim is worth is to talk to the experienced Fort Lauderdale Mass Tort Lawyers at BK Law. They will review the facts and circumstances of your case in order to give you an accurate understanding of the value of your claim and your options moving forward.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Bring a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
If you served at Camp Lejeune and have developed a disabling condition as a result, you are entitled to compensation and support. While you have the right to file a disability claim or bring a personal injury lawsuit on your own, it is time you had someone else do the fighting. This is not your burden to bear, and the fact of the matter is that our lawyers are very good at doing this. There is no point in slogging through paperwork and making avoidable and costly errors when our lawyers can make this process as painless and efficient as possible for you. The mass tort lawyers at BK Law are experienced in getting large settlements for victims of mass torts, and we take great pride in our ability to represent veterans and get them the support and compensation that they are entitled to. Talk to our lawyers today and find out how easy it is to get the benefits you deserve.
Contact BK Law and Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are a veteran, you put your life on the line to defend our country. Now, our lawyers want to defend you and hold the parties responsible for causing you and your family harm financially accountable. Contact BK Law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today, and schedule your personalized consultation.