Millions of people have worked or lived in Camp Lejeune over the decades. A significant portion of them has had contact with unsafe chemicals in the water supply. Veterans and their families have suffered from the resulting cancers and other health issues.
Currently, victims are finally able to sue the government for reimbursement. If you are eligible for compensation, consider hiring a Camp Lejeuen toxic water attorney to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit to seek compensation for your losses.
Disability Benefits for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Officials discovered the drinking water at Camp Lejeune contained multiple toxic chemicals between the 1950s and mid-1980s. Many residents suffered from exposure to substances like tetrachloroethylene (PCE). Researchers found some evidence the chemicals have led to certain illnesses, like bladder cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The government has allowed marines from Camp Lejeune to apply for disability benefits to cover their injuries. Veterans and reservists must prove they were on the base for at least 30 days from 1953 to 1987. Additionally, they need documentation of at least one presumptive disease to qualify.
The Department of Veteran Affairs may also provide healthcare benefits to veteran families. A family member must have lived on the base for one month and provide records to prove they spent money on treatment for at least one qualifying condition.
Courts Once Dismissed Lawsuits but Now Must Take Them
Some veterans had their claims denied and were unable to receive disability benefits. Additionally, the ones who did receive those benefits may not have gotten enough coverage for costs related to their injuries. Therefore, hundreds have sought legal action against the government for exposure to contaminated water.
However, judges have dismissed attempts to collect compensation through personal injury suits in the civil court system. The reason they have cited is an expired statute of repose. The statute of repose implements a time restraint for how long people can file a civil lawsuit after an action is completed. In this case, the action is the consumption of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
A victim has a maximum of 10 years to file the action, regardless if they were made aware of their illness during that time. A veteran could miss the deadline if they were diagnosed years after they left the base. As a result, many victims have could not get the compensation they need—until now.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Advocates continued to push for the rights of veterans and their families being able to sue for the damages from Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. Eventually, Congress enacted a bill known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The bill would prevent the statute of repose from applying to Camp Lejeune cases and allow victims to seek compensation.
Since Congress passed the bill, thousands of victims can now take legal action. However, people only have two years from the date of the law’s enactment. Furthermore, all lawsuits must be filed in North Carolina regardless of where the individual resides currently.
Plaintiffs should provide medical records to show they developed cancer or another health complication following their time at Camp Lejeune. Additionally, the documentation has to link their condition to the chemicals from the contaminated water.
Whether a victim was diagnosed years ago or recently, they still qualify for compensation. In addition, a family member can file a wrongful death claim if their loved one passes away because of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
Since victims can now take legal action, you should begin your lawsuit as soon as possible to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. One of the first steps is to locate a Camp Lejeune lawyer to assist you with your case. While successful settlements have occurred, you may still be better positioned with a lawyer to help guide you through the complex legal system.
To succeed with your lawsuit, you must prove the drinking water from Camp Lejeune contributed to your condition. Some illnesses develop due to various factors. Therefore, you will need evidence to establish the link between your diagnosis and chemical exposure.
The documentation you need may depend on whether you are a veteran, a loved one, or a civilian worker. Evidence typically includes medical records, military service records, and employment history. Dedicated Camp Lejeune lawyers know exactly what can help you build your case. Our Experienced legal team can even help you determine if your eligible and what caused the camp lejeune water contamination.
Another way a lawyer can assist is by filing the appropriate paperwork for your suit. You must file the correct papers in the appropriate format and meet strict deadlines. An attorney manages the paperwork and timeline to ensure your case proceeds properly.
Lawsuits Against the Government
Camp Lejeune lawsuits are filed against the federal government, making the process slightly different. For instance, before you begin your case, you must submit a notice to the correct governmental agency. A well-versed lawyer knows the procedures of federal claims and can help you navigate the particulars of that legal system.
Appeal Denied Disability Claim
A Camp Lejeune attorney is beneficial if the Department of VA denies your application for benefits. Even if you get a settlement, you still have the right to disability benefits for veterans. A lawyer can work with you to appeal a denial and work to get you the benefits you deserve.
Qualities to Look For in a Camp Lejeune Lawyer
Not all Camp Lejeune lawyers will be right for you. You should find someone with the right traits and who you can work well with during the lawsuit process.
Several helpful qualities include:
- Empathy. You may have struggled for years with the long-term effects of contaminated water. An attorney should display an understanding of your situation and provide the utmost care. You should not feel like just another case to resolve.
- Experience. Your lawyer should have years of taking on similar injury claims. They know how the legal system works and the skills necessary to secure compensation. An attorney’s website indicates how long they have been in practice, their specialties, and their successes.
- Field of practice. Someone who specializes in divorce proceedings will likely be unfamiliar with injury lawsuits against the federal government. A lawyer already familiar with Camp Lejeune’s lawsuits is more likely to land a settlement.
- Listening skills. Communication is essential in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, and listening is crucial. The right attorney takes the time to hear your story and your opinions. You should be able to tell them about the direction you want your case to go and know you’ve been heard.
- Willing to take your case. Not every lawyer will want to take you on as a client. They may have a busy workload or be unfamiliar with the practice area. Your lawyer should show enthusiasm at the prospect of helping you seek justice.
- Attention to detail. The right lawyer is meticulous. They pay attention to the details of each piece of evidence and review all paperwork before filing with the court.
Websites host plenty of information to determine if a firm is the right fit. Still, the most effective way to gauge an attorney is to meet with them. Personal injury lawyers should offer free consultations. You can schedule meetings with multiple lawyers before deciding which to hire.
How Do You Pay a Camp Lejeune Lawyer?
Lawyers across various fields of law have multiple methods of payment. However, most Camp Lejeune attorneys charge clients on a contingency fee basis for services. Many people prefer a contingency fee arrangement because it makes services more accessible.
A contingency fee means you do not have to pay anything upfront. Your lawyer only takes their fee if they win your case. The fee will be an agreed-upon percentage of your settlement they will take out before sending you the final check.
The typical percent fee for a contingency agreement is 33 percent of your settlement. Therefore, your lawyer is less likely to settle quickly without attempting to maximize your potential settlement.
An attorney may base their fee on the complexity of the case. Meanwhile, others can change the amount based on how far a lawsuit progresses. You and your lawyer will discuss payment details before you sign an agreement.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, a person can file a lawsuit if they have had a minimum of 30 days of exposure at Camp Lejeune. They need to prove they were on the base during the contamination period: August 1953 - December 1987.
Many plaintiffs include the marines stationed at the base. However, other military personnel who worked at Camp Lejeune are eligible. The law includes other groups who suffered from the long-term effects of the chemicals, like families living on the base. Spouses and children can seek compensation for any damages the drinking water caused.
Any other individuals who otherwise became exposed at Camp Lejeune can file a lawsuit against the government. For instance, many pregnant women lived in Camp Lejeune for at least a month between 1953 and 1987. A study found an increase in the possibility of cancer due to prenatal and early childhood exposure to PCE, a chemical found at Camp Lejeune. A parent can seek compensation for a child who suffered a birth abnormality from exposure.
Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims
Several people who received a cancer diagnosis or had another health complication passed away before they could sue. Nonetheless, their estates can still seek justice and recover damages regardless of when the victim passed away.
Like any wrongful death claim, a personal representative has the authority to seek compensation. They act in the interests of the deceased’s estate and ensure the settlement funds sufficiently cover the loss of the deceased’s life.
Usually, the personal representative is someone the deceased individual designates in their will. The role typically goes towards a surviving family member or a close friend. A personal representative has many duties when managing a deceased’s estate. A lawyer can help manage a Camp Lejeune lawsuit to ensure the estate gets the compensation it deserves and take it off the plate of the estate representative.
Settlement Amount for a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The value of adequate compensation depends on the factors of your case. A primary component of your settlement is the damages you can claim. Your lawyer assesses your losses and calculates their total worth. You may be able to claim several economic and non-economic damages in your lawsuit.
Economic damages typically include the out-of-pocket expenses you have paid for treatment and hospital stays. Additional costs may involve medication subscriptions and devices. Both past and expected bills increase the amount of reimbursement you can obtain.
Other economic damages include lost wages and diminished earning capacity. Your lawyer estimates how much a settlement should cover based on an illness’s impact on your ability to continue working.
Non-economic losses focus on less tangible damages like pain and suffering. Chronic illnesses, birth complications, and other injuries can impact a person’s emotional well-being long-term. Moreover, chemotherapy and other treatments may cause substantial discomfort and stress that can also be considered non-economic damages. A settlement should reflect the loss of enjoyment and quality of life someone experiences.
If you decide to file a suit for your Camp Lejeune injuries, you can still receive disability benefits from the Department of VA. The benefits may offset the compensation you can receive in your settlement.
A Camp Lejeune lawyer is familiar with the additional factors that may impact the value of a case, like how long someone had contact with contaminated drinking water. A lengthier exposure period might have a higher value.
The severity of a person’s health issues also affects the compensation a victim can recover. Many cases center around the type of cancer a victim develops and the ensuing effect on the victim’s life. Additionally, the stage of cancer the victim has reached is a factor in calculating the value of a fair settlement.
Cases may settle for nearly any amount, however, your attorney cannot guarantee what you will recover from your claim. Your lawyer can help determine the value of your claim and what constitutes a fair settlement for your injuries.
Contact a seasoned Camp Lejeune attorney to begin the process to recover the compensation you deserve.