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Camp Lejeune Water Claims – FAQ

Published on August 5th, 2022 by Andrew Hughes

What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

From the early 1950s to the late 1980s, well water at the U.S. Marine Corps’ base Camp Lejeune was contaminated with toxic chemicals. Those who served, lived, and worked on the base used this water for cooking, bathing, and drinking. For decades, the marines stationed at Camp Lejeune had complained of the foul-smelling water. However, even the most contaminated wells remained in operation until 1985.

As a result of the government’s inaction, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that as many as one million individuals may have been exposed to the contaminated water. [1] Sadly, a large swath of these individuals have been forced to endure stillbirths, birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses as a result of their exposure.

What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) is part of the larger Honoring Our Pact Act. The CLJA was signed into law August 10, 2022. Now those who were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water will be able to sue the government for compensation for their related injuries. [2]

Who Can File a Claim?

You may be eligible for compensation if you or a loved one:

(1) was exposed to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and

(2) developed an illness that is related to the contaminated water.

Do I Have to be a Veteran to File a Claim?

No. Both veterans and non-veteran are eligible to recover for injuries that are related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. This includes:

  • servicemen who were stationed at Camp Lejeune;

  • family members of servicemen who resided at Camp Lejeune;

  • civilian contractors who worked at Camp Lejeune; and

  • children exposed in utero while the family resided at Camp Lejeune.

What Conditions are Related to the Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

There are many conditions related to the contaminants found in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. Some of the conditions that have the strongest links to these contaminants include:

  • Kidney Cancer

  • Bladder Cancer

  • Liver Cancer

  • Breast Cancer

  • Esophageal Cancer

  • Female infertility

  • Hepatic Steatosis

  • Aplastic Anemia

  • Leukemia

  • Lung Cancer

  • Miscarriage

  • Multiple Myeloma

  • Myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Neurobehavioral Effects

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Renal Toxicity

  • Scleroderma

What Does it Cost to File a Camp Lejeune lawsuit?

Hughes Law Offices is committed to helping anyone exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune on a contingency basis. This means that there will be zero legal fees unless we recover money on your behalf. Call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak directly with an attorney at no cost to you.

How Does The CLJA Claims Process Work?

The first step is to file an administrative claim with the Office of the Judge Advocate of the Navy. After the administrative claim is filed, the government will have up to 6 months to make a final determination on whether to accept or reject the administrative claim. If the administrative claim is denied, then the claimant can file a claim in court. From then on, the case will be treated like a normal lawsuit where the plaintiff is the person injured and the defendant is the government.

How Long do I Have to File a Claim?

If your illness was discovered before the CLJA is passed into law, then you must file your claim within two years of August 10, 2022, the date the CLJA was enacted. Or within 180 days of the date on which your administrative claim is denied. Whichever date is the later.

If your illness is discovered after August 10, 2022, then you will need to file your claim within 2 years from the date the illness is discovered or within 180 days from the date on which the administrative claim is denied. Whichever date is the later.

My Family Member Died Many Years Ago from a Camp Lejeune-Related Condition. Can I File a Claim Now?

Yes. As the bill has been written, wrongful death claims may be brought today for illnesses that were diagnosed many years ago.  For instance, if your father was stationed at Camp Lejeune in the 1960’s, and died of kidney cancer in the 1990’s, you should be able to bring a claim on behalf of your father.

What Compensation is Available under the CLJA?

The CLJA will allow individuals to recover for any economic and non-economic damages relating to their exposures to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

Economic damages are meant to compensate for monetary expenses that are incurred as a result of the injury. This includes things such as medical bills, lost wages, and cost of future medical care.

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate for less tangible harms such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of the companionship of a loved one.

How Much Money Can I Recover?

Many individuals have suffered millions of dollars of damages as a result of their exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. However,  it’s too early to predict how much an average CLJA claim will be worth.

What was in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

The water in Camp Lejeune was contaminated with multiple hazardous chemicals. Amongst the most dangerous contaminants were trichlorethylene (TCE), tetrachlorethylene (PERC), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene.

What Caused the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water has been attributed to three sources: the powerful solvents that were used to clean military equipment on base (the likely source of the TCE); a severe leak from an underground fuel tank (benzene source); and a nearby laundry facility that was improperly disposing of cleaning solvents (PERC source).

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbon that is present in almost all petroleum fuels. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies benzene as a group 1 carcinogen. [3]  It is most strongly associated with cancers of the blood and bone marrow.

What is Tetrachloroethylene?

Tetrachloroethylene (aka perchloroethylene or PERC) is a carcinogenic chlorocarbon. It was commonly used as an industrial degreaser and in the dry-cleaning of fabrics. The IARC has classified PCE as a Group 2A carcinogen. [3] It is most strongly associated with urinary bladder cancer. PCE also has strong ties with neurodegenerative illnesses such as toxic encephalopathy and Parkinson’s disease.

What is Trichloroethylene?

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a carcinogenic chlorocarbon that was widely used as an industrial degreaser. The IARC classifies TCE as a group 1 carcinogen. [3] It is most strongly associated with kidney cancer, however, it is also linked with cancer of the liver and bile duct as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. TCE has also been strongly associated with neurodegenerative illnesses such as toxic encephalopathy and Parkinson’s disease.

What is Vinyl Chloride?

Vinyl chloride (VC) is a carcinogenic organochloride. Vinyl chloride’s primary use is in the production of PVC pipe. TCE and PERC in groundwater degrade into VC over time. The IARC classifies VC as a group 1 carcinogen. [3]

We May Be Able To Help

The legal mechanisms that this act would create are unique and untested, and toxic exposure claims, even under normal circumstances, are complicated endeavors. These cases will require experienced toxic tort attorneys who know how to establish medical causation in court. At Hughes Law Offices, toxic torts is all we do. Focus on your recovery and let us do the work needed to prove your case. Call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak directly with an attorney at no cost to you.

[1] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/index.html.

 

[2] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2192/text

 

[3] https://monographs.iarc.who.int/list-of-classifications

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