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Servicemembers and civilians who became sick because of Camp Lejeune’s toxic water supply can now “present” a claim and later sue the federal government thanks to a bipartisan bill that passed on August 10, 2022. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is part of the PACT Act, legislation making it easier for military veterans exposed to toxins to receive healthcare benefits and awards. Specifically, the Camp Lejeune bill allows those affected by the military’s decades-long water contamination to “present” a claim and/or sue the federal government by filing Camp Lejeune lawsuits, which usually isn’t possible.

For over three decades, Camp Lejeune’s water supply was tainted by volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). The pollution happened because hazardous materials were disposed of improperly and toxins leaked into soil and groundwater. The U.S. military did not shut down the Camp Lejeune water wells until the mid-1980s, only after scientists urged the government to act because chemical solvents were found in the water supply. Camp Lejeune toxic water exposure has been linked to Leukemia, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, and kidney, bladder, and liver cancers (among others still under investigation). If you served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days (The days do NOT have to be consecutive) from August 1953 through December 1987 and have suffered health problems, you may be eligible to seek compensation.

When the Camp Lejeune Justice Act became law, the response was immediate. Within days, veterans began to file claims against the federal government for negligence and failing to warn that the water they bathed in and drank contained harmful contaminants. If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune (or have a family member that was there with you) and fell ill after time at the base, there is a chance the contaminated water played a role in your illness. Consulting with a qualified Camp Lejeune Lawyer is an essential next step. While you can present and/or file a Camp Lejeune claim without legal help, an attorney can answer any questions you may have and make the process easier for you. 

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Claims Process

Receiving compensation for a Camp Lejeune illness or death from toxic water exposure starts with an administrative claim. You must fill out a claims form detailing the personal injury or wrongful death and how much money you hope to receive. You’ll also describe where you resided or worked at the time of exposure, among many other details required in the claims process. The process is exact and unforgiving, so it must be done correctly to avoid the claim being denied.

The Camp Lejeune claims process isn’t only open to former servicemembers. Civilian military dependents, civilians who worked on base, and children who suffered injuries in utero can also file claims. Once completed, the claims form is submitted to the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy Tort Claims Unit (TCU). The government hasn’t provided a timeline for how long it will take to process claims, and there’s no way to check on the status of an individual claim once it is filed. Victims only have two years from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act’s passing to file claims, so it’s essential to act quickly. 

We don’t know what the JAG will be allowed to do or offer in terms of fair settlements to Camp Lejeune victims, but we do not expect the government to meet all plaintiffs’ needs on its own. The office could approve claim requests outright and give fair compensation, but that, unfortunately, is not the most likely scenario given the tremendous needs and injuries sustained. Parties can choose to navigate the process without a lawyer, but it is not recommended. Legal proceedings are complex, and an attorney will help you understand whether you’re being treated fairly and offered proper compensation for Camp Lejeune injuries. 

If the outcome of your administrative claim is not satisfactory, you will file a federal Camp Lejeune lawsuit against the federal government. A lawyer can determine the best way to move forward in seeking compensation, so do not put off consulting with one. Two years might sound like a long time, but it will pass quickly, and you do not want to miss your chance to file and seek justice.

Our Camp Lejeune attorneys at Childers, Schlueter & Smith specialize in personal injury and wrongful death claims. We proudly represent Camp Lejeune victims who have experienced needless loss and injury due to the government’s inaction. If you or someone you know has been affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, call us at 1-800-641-0098 or email us at CampLejeune@cssfirm.com. All inquiries are confidential, and all initial consultations are free of charge. 

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