The Camp Lejeune water contamination has affected over 1 million service workers and military personnel. Many U.S. Marines, their families, and service providers were exposed to toxins when chemicals entered the water supply after an off-base dry-cleaning facility improperly disposed of waste in the early 1950s.
The water has since been decontaminated and deemed safe to use after 1987, but many people are still dealing with crippling illnesses and health conditions.If you or a family member has served, stayed at, or provided service to Camp Lejeune during the contamination period, you could be eligible for financial compensation and benefits. Below, we offer a Camp Lejeune water contamination legal benefits guide so that you can have information on how to pursue a claim against the U.S. government.
Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination Explained
Camp Lejeune’s water contamination began in the early 1950s when the Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment plant’s water supply was exposed to toxins such as PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, and other chemical substances. This was due to the then-waste disposal practices of the off-base dry cleaning company ABC One-Hour Cleaners.
Over time, the chemicals polluting the waters would spread to the Hadnot point plant and eventually throughout the entire North Carolina base’s waters. This would continue for 30 years as active personnel and service providers drank, utilized, and bathed in the toxic water up until 1982, when a staggering number of toxins were found in the water. Prolonged exposure to these toxins would be responsible for serious health conditions, such as cancer and the increased potential for childbirth risks. After three years of investigation, most of the camp’s wells were closed in 1985, beginning the decontamination process. As of 1987, the waters were classified as safe to drink, but anyone stationed or employed at the base camp between 1953 and 1987 could suffer physical harm from exposure to VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) created a provisionary service called for those exposed to the contaminated water source between August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987. Those exposed to the contaminants for at least 30 days are entitled to free health care benefits even if they do not appear to possess a health condition related to exposure to the toxins. This is the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.
Veterans can also file a disability claim under this act if they have been diagnosed with one of the illnesses specifically proven to be linked to chemical exposure. These conditions are as follows:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Lastly, you can also apply for reimbursement if you paid for medical care for one of 15 specific illnesses on or after December 16, 2014. It must be noted that you are not eligible to receive these benefits if you received a dishonorable discharge.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
On August 10, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was signed into law. This act allows veterans, contractors, family members, and service workers exposed to chemical toxins over a 30-day period or longer to seek compensation for resulting health complications.
This law helps those the government previously denied on immunity defense and tort claims to seek monetary compensation and benefits for their health issues.
Recoverable Damages After Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
Another avenue you can pursue is a Camp Lejeune benefits claim under the Janey Ensminger Act to receive compensation for your health complications resulting from prolonged exposure to toxic substances. Those damages cover Camp Lejeune-related expenses such as:
- Past, current, and ongoing medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Reduced earning ability
- Impaired quality of life
Of course, you must provide all relevant documentation of your time at the Marine base and evidence that substantiates your claims that exposure to polluted waters at Camp Lejeune directly caused your health issues. A lawyer can help you gather this evidence and build your compensation case for benefits.
If you pursue a legal claim, a personal injury attorney with our firm can assist you in determining what damages you qualify for and the possible amount you could receive after analyzing your case and ongoing health complications.
Statute of Limitations for Camp Lejeune Compensation Claims
Although several opportunities for monetary relief are available for a Camp Lejeune claim, the latest legislation limits your window of opportunity. Generally, you have only two years from the signing date of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 to file a compensation claim against the U.S. government.
After August 10, 2024, the U.S. government can once again be able to stop you from receiving financial relief, so we encourage you to act quickly if you want to file a claim.
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Now that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is in effect, Marine veterans and their loved ones can pursue a claim against the federal government for the damages related to the toxic water supply at the base. When you call us, we can guide you through the legal benefits you could recover because of the Camp Lejeune water contamination you encountered.
The Fitch Law Firm LLC is ready to help you. Call us today for a free consultation.
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