If you or a family member (whether alive or deceased) lived or worked at Marine base Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987, you were likely exposed to contaminated drinking water containing deadly toxins.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), part of the PACT Act, was enacted on August 10, 2022 and allows individuals (and their families) exposed to and affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination to file claims for compensation. The U.S. government has put aside billions of dollars to pay these claims.
If you or a family member lived or worked on the base between August 1953 and December 1987 and were later diagnosed with one of the listed illnesses (see below), you may have a legal right to file a compensation claim with the government.
The Act aims to compensate Camp Lejeune water contamination victims for their adverse health effects. Military veterans, civilians, and their families (alive or deceased) impacted by the contamination have the right to seek compensation from the government.
Camp Lejeune Claim Deadlines
The deadline for filing a compensation claim with the government is August 10, 2024. However, most Camp Lejeune attorneys are expected to stop taking new clients as early as March or April 2024 due to the amount of time necessary to prepare the compensation claims before filing with the government. If the claims involve a deceased family member, more preparation time could be required to handle probate issues before filing.
This is just one of several procedural hurdles to bringing such claims. With about 1.5 million people having lived or worked at Camp Lejeune since 1953, selecting the best lawyer with deep knowledge about the Camp Lejeune lawsuits has become critical for those seeking justice.
To help affected individuals navigate the complex legal process, finding the right lawyer with experience in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit is essential.
To get the best results, claimants need to involve knowledgeable attorneys who understand the intricate details of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and have experience handling claims and lawsuits related to toxic water exposure and its health consequences.
Tips to Find the Best Lawyers for Camp Lejeune Claims and Lawsuits
Experience with Camp Lejeune Claims
If you’re interested in pursuing a claim related to Camp Lejeune or want to find out if you are qualified to make a claim, you need to find the best lawyers with the right expertise and a deep understanding of how to represent you and your family in this unique case.
To ensure the best outcome for your case, consider hiring a top-rated personal injury attorney who knows the detailed history of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and is already handling claims against the government compensation claims.
You want to find lawyers with the experience to handle complex environmental contamination cases and are equipped to guide you through the legal process. You must trust them to advocate on your behalf and bring justice to your situation.
A Track Record of Success
When entrusting an attorney with your rights under a Camp Lejeune claim or lawsuit, evaluating an attorney’s track record of success is important. Some attorneys may have a history of obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts in cases like the Camp Lejeune litigation. To find the best-fit lawyer, consider the following:
- Number of Camp Lejeune cases handled or under active management.
- Notable settlements and verdicts in similar cases
- Client testimonials and reviews
The skills and knowledge of a law firm in personal injury and other practice areas can contribute to their effectiveness in representing those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination. Ask about the attorney’s experience, knowledge, and capabilities related to complex injury claims.
Consider factors such as experience and specialization in Camp Lejeune cases. By doing so, you will be better equipped to choose the best legal representation for your Camp Lejeune claim or lawsuit.
Hire the A-Team of Lawyers for Your Camp Lejeune Claim
The “A-Team” is a group of law firms working together to obtain the best results for you and your family in the Camp Lejeune water contamination cases. These firms have a history of obtaining favorable settlements and verdicts in cases like the Camp Lejeune litigation, have set up operations to efficiently process these claims, and have already filed administrative claims and federal lawsuits for veterans and their families.
- Harry Blalock, founder of Blalock, LLC. J. Harry Blalock (“Harry”) joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966. Harry completed his advanced infantry training for Vietnam at Camp Geiger, where he drank and bathed in the toxic water from Camp Lejeune. Harry served as an M60 machine gunner in Vietnam for over a year and was severely wounded in action during his last month in country. After months of recovering from his wounds in various military hospitals, Harry was honorably discharged and returned home to complete his undergraduate and law degrees. Harry has over 25 years of experience litigating Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claims on behalf of injured workers and is a veteran of over 40 years of trial work.
- Blalock, LLC is a special-purpose national law firm focused on representing veterans poisoned by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Attorneys in the firm are USMC and US Army veterans with a unique perspective on the needs of veterans. Managing partner and attorney Edward K. Wood (“Kirk”) served in various combat arms assignments in the United States and Europe, as well as extensive training with the USMC. Kirk has over 40 years of litigation experience in mass injury lawsuits and toxic exposure cases nationwide. Blalock, LLC and its partner firms are singularly focused on processing Camp Lejeune claims, from initial administrative submissions to appointing probate representatives and filing lawsuits on behalf of victims in the Eastern District of North Carolina. They are receiving close to a hundred claims a week for evaluation and have submitted or are ready to submit over 2,500 government compensation claims for Camp Lejeune veterans and their families.
- Doyle APC. William J. Doyle and Christopher W. Cantrell of Doyle APC have over 40 years of collective experience in complex class action and mass injury lawsuits. The Doyle APC attorneys have represented thousands of victims for injury claims involving defective drugs, medical devices, and toxic products. They have had the privilege of representing veterans and their families in injury lawsuits throughout the United States.
- Alan M. Mansfield of the Consumer Law Group of California has close to 40 years of experience in complex litigation, including in the area of national health care, privacy, and consumer class action and public interest litigation since 1989.
Camp Lejeune Settlements and Compensation
Compensation and the Early Settlement Program
Recently, the government announced a formula for the early resolution of Camp Lejeune claims.
While the specific amounts awarded will depend on many factors, the settlement amounts available in the early settlement program generally range between $10,000 and $500,000 per claim.
Law firms specializing in Camp Lejeune litigation can offer guidance and representation for those wishing to participate in this early settlement program to obtain the quickest and best outcome.
Types of Compensation
Individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may be eligible for compensation through an administrative claim or civil lawsuit.
There are different types of compensation that claimants can receive as part of a settlement. These may include:
- Medical expenses: Reimbursement for past and future medical care related to the health conditions caused by the contaminated water.
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress resulting from the exposure and its consequences on their health.
- Lost wages: Reimbursement of lost income due to their inability to work due to the health issues caused by the contamination.
- Wrongful death: Compensation for surviving family members who lost a loved one due to contaminated water and related health issues.
Understanding the Camp Lejeune Claims and Lawsuits
The PACT Act and CLJA Enable Compensation Claims
The Camp Lejeune claims and lawsuits are a high-profile, ongoing legal battle involving the United States government and those who lived or worked at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and were exposed to toxic and contaminated water at the Marine military base.
The PACT Act, which stands for the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, is comprehensive legislation designed to expand healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service. This act includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which specifically addresses the contamination issues at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base.
The PACT Act represents a significant step in recognizing and addressing the health impacts of service-related environmental exposures on U.S. veterans. As part of the PACT Act, the CLJA overrides the Federal Tort Claims Act and other North Carolina laws that previously barred legal actions for contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
However, not all claims are eligible, and a specific procedure must be followed to submit such a claim and, if necessary, file a lawsuit.
There is also a limited time to act – all claims must be submitted by August 10, 2024, or they will be forever barred.
The good news is the government is already settling claims and has a process for promptly evaluating claims submitted on behalf of individual victims.
Eligible Claimants: Veterans, Service Members, and Civilian Workers
The Camp Lejeune lawsuit has wide-reaching implications for many people, including:
- Active service members
- Civilian workers who worked at the base
- Family members, including children in utero or born there
These individuals might suffer from various illnesses and long-term health issues due to their exposure to the contaminated water supply at Camp LeJeune.
As of March 20, 2023, at least 260 Camp Lejeune claimants have converted their claims into civil lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Under the Act, this court is where all these lawsuits must be filed.
And as of November 23, 2023, the government has paid nearly $1 million in claims. While this is a small amount of the overall exposure, these settlements show the government can now process these claims and has a procedure in place.
The Camp Lejeune Water Treatment Plants
The water treatment plants at Marine base Camp Lejeune have been central to the claims because they were the source of water provided to the base that was contaminated with hazardous chemicals.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, these facilities failed to remove dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the drinking water, leading to long-term health issues for those exposed.
The inadequacy of these water treatment plants to ensure safe water is a key element in the lawsuits filed by veterans and their families.
Health Concerns and Consequences
When seeking legal help for a Camp Lejeune claim or lawsuit, selecting the best lawyers with extensive knowledge in handling toxic injury cases involving health concerns and consequences from water contamination is a key factor to ensure the best outcome.
Camp Lejeune Injuries: Cancers
Several types of cancer are linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Those who lived or worked on the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, might have developed or be at risk for developing one or more of the following:
- Kidney cancer: This cancer originates in the kidneys and has been found in individuals exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
- Lung cancer: Exposure to contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune may increase the risk of lung cancer among the affected population.
- Bladder cancer: Bladder cancer has been identified as one of the possible outcomes of ingesting or bathing in contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
- Breast cancer: Those exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune have reported breast cancer cases.
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: This cancer affects the lymphatic system, and it has been linked to contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune.
- Leukemia: Those exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune have also reported leukemia cases, a form of blood cancer.
Camp Lejeune Injuries: Non-cancerous
In addition to the cancer categories, the toxic water at Camp Lejeune has also been connected to various non-cancerous health conditions. Some of these include:
- Neurobehavioral effects: Cognitive impairment, memory loss, and mood disorders have been reported among individuals exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
- Autoimmune disorders: Conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
- Liver damage: Exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune could lead to liver damage.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Those exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune have reported the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Camp Lejeune Injuries: Birth Defects
The Camp Lejeune lawsuits have also brought to light a troubling array of health issues, among which are claims of birth defects linked to the contaminated water at the Marine Corps base.
Plaintiffs have reported a range of congenital disabilities in children born to mothers who were exposed to the toxic chemicals present in the base’s water supply during pregnancy.
The reported birth defects include, but are not limited to, neural tube defects, cardiac anomalies, and low birth weight, which are believed to be associated with the mother’s exposure to volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) found in the base’s water.
The evidence suggests that these chemicals can cross the placental barrier, potentially leading to developmental issues in the womb. As a result, lawsuits filed by affected families include claims for compensation for the care and treatment of children born with these disabilities, highlighting the generational impact of the contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Compensation Claims and Court Process
The Administrative Claims Process
The administrative claims process and getting it right is essential in helping obtain proper compensation for victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Individuals wishing to pursue a claim against the Department of the Navy must first undergo the administrative claims process.
To start this process, claimants must provide a detailed account of their exposure at Camp Lejeune, including dates of residency or employment, medical documentation of illnesses or conditions linked to the dangerous chemicals in the water, and any supporting materials showing the effects of the exposure.
Once a claim is submitted, the Department of the Navy will review it and determine the claimant’s eligibility for compensation. The government has six months to review a complete submitted claim.
If a claimant has died, their representatives must be appointed by a local court to represent and submit this administrative claim. This process can take months but must be completed before any claim can be submitted to the government for review.
Federal Court Lawsuits
Lawyers specializing in Camp Lejeune litigation must navigate a complex legal landscape involving coordination with other plaintiff attorneys, knowledge of Camp Lejeune’s history and the Marines, and the ability to interpret regulations and expert testimony surrounding water contamination exposure cases.
By adhering to best practices, attorneys will play a central role in securing compensation for their clients affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
If the government denies claims, a lawsuit must be filed within six months of denial, and all claims must be submitted to the government by August 10, 2024.
Federal court actions involve filing a lawsuit against the Department of the Navy in a U.S. district court. To successfully pursue a contaminated water claim in federal court, plaintiffs must present evidence of their exposure to dangerous chemicals, expert witnesses to support their claims, and a legal team well-versed in regulations and procedures surrounding Camp Lejeune litigation.
Filing a Claim for Compensation
Individuals eligible to file a Camp Lejeune claim are those who lived, worked, or were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
There is a presumption of liability if the individuals were at Camp LeJeune for 30 days or more, but the 30 days need not be consecutive.
Pursuing a lawsuit with a knowledgeable lawyer specializing in Camp Lejeune-related cases can help victims receive the compensation they deserve. However, victims must first go through an administrative claims process.
To submit a Camp Lejeune claim, these steps need to be followed, which is why involving the best attorney you can locate to help you and your family may be essential to navigating this governmental claim process:
- Access the online portal designated for Camp Lejeune claim submissions. Ensure all necessary personal, service and exposure-related details are readily available before accessing the portal.
- Carefully fill in all required information in the online portal, including the total number of days spent at Camp Lejeune, specific dates, and details of any illnesses or conditions arising from exposure to the contaminated water.
- Gather and upload supporting documents, such as medical records, service records, or other evidence substantiating the claimant’s presence at Camp Lejeune and related health problems.
- Review the claim submission thoroughly for completeness and accuracy before submitting it.
- Track the claim’s progress through the online portal or by checking with the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit periodically. All claims should be filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit.
Victims can only file a civil lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Act in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina if their administrative claim is denied or not settled.
These lawsuits will be consolidated under a master docket, which will help expedite the process and ensure consistent handling of cases.
Camp Lejeune Claims and Federal Benefits
An important and practical question victims ask us is what impact, if any, accepting a settlement under the Camp Lejeune Act will have on their federal benefits.
The Veteran Administration’s right to subrogation and/or decrease of an award is not solely based on the source of the funds. Rather, the focus is on whether any award will result in a double payment to a veteran out of the United States Treasury. We discuss each of the federal benefits in turn.
Neither the historical context of the Camp Lejeune Act nor the primary purpose of the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (“FMCRA”) is consistent with the idea that a veteran must repay the United States for medical services it provided under the FMRCA due to harm that the United States caused.
The text of the Camp Lejeune Act does not allow the United States to offset medical care and services provided, and the Fourth Circuit (where, by law, these claims must be filed) has held that the United States may only recover if the injury is caused by a third party other than the United States.
Consistent with this law, the VA has announced it will not seek subrogation based on the payment of Camp Lejeune claims. The Office of General Counsel on the VA’s website states:
“VA’s Federal Medical Care Recovery Program ensures that when a Veteran is injured, the responsible party pays for the injured Veteran’s medical care instead of the American taxpayers. Money recovered by this program helps each VA medical facility provide the excellent medical care and services that each Veteran deserves by supplementing funds appropriated to VA by Congress. . . . CAMP LEJEUNE JUSTICE ACT CLAIMANTS: Please note that claims arising under the recently-passed Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”) are claims against the United States. VA is statutorily prohibited from asserting a claim against the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 2651(a). As such, VA will not be generating billing for any CLJA cases.”VA Website
Social Security Benefits
Many courts have concluded that Social Security disability benefits and funds from other similar government programs do not offset tort liability. The Eastern District of North Carolina (where, by law, these claims must be filed) is among those courts to recognize there is no offset of Social Security disability benefits.
This is because individuals who receive Social Security Disability have met eligibility requirements by paying into the Social Security system and being classified as disabled by the Social Security Administration’s standards. Accepting a settlement will not affect SSD benefits, and all Social Security benefits should continue.
Medicare and Medicaid
Courts have held Medicare payments are also not subject to subrogation because, like Social Security disability benefits, they were paid out of a special fund that is separate and distinct from general government revenues to which veterans have contributed.
While settlements do not impact Medicare eligibility, any settlement must be reported to Medicare within 60 days for any recovery related to personal injury claims to which Medicare has paid medical bills.
Medicare generally has a lien to claims related to the treatment received for a settled injury and may possibly assert it. Courts have yet to address this issue in the context of Camp Lejeune claims.
In addition, Civil Service Retirement benefits are not deductible, and National Service Life Insurance Policy benefits also are not deductible.
While the issue has not been finally resolved by the courts, it is reasonable to conclude there will likely be minimal, if any, subrogation deductions in Camp Lejeune settlements to a veteran for monies received for the provision of medical care and services. That does not mean that a veteran can dip into the federal treasury twice for the same harm — there may be certain limitations to benefits that have already been paid. However, this will be a factor to take into consideration in any settlement.
Source: Excerpted from S. Robinson, “Camp Lejeune Claims: Subrogation and Offsets.”
Additional Factual Information
Individuals seeking additional health-related information and details about the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may want to access the U.S. government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which provides detailed information regarding the effects of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Claims: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed by President Biden on August 10, 2022, as part of the Honoring Our PACT Act. This legislation allows individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to submit claims and file a lawsuit against the government for compensation.
Who is eligible to participate in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit?
Under the Camp Lejeune Act, eligibility requirements include:
- Living or working at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
- Exposure to contaminated water during their time at the base
- Suffering from health problems potentially related to that exposure
- Submitting a complete claim by August 10, 2024.
- If the claimant is deceased, obtain a court order appointing an individual as the representative to submit such a claim.
Certain types of liability are presumed if the individuals were at Camp LeJeune for 30 days or more. Still, the 30 days need not be consecutive when calculating eligibility.
What are the potential payouts and settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune lawsuits?
Payouts and settlement amounts vary significantly based on case specifics, such as:
- The severity of health issues directly linked to water contamination
- The duration of exposure to contaminated water
- Other contributing factors that may have influenced the individual’s health problems
Recently, the government announced a formula for the early resolution of Camp Lejeune claims.
While the specific amounts awarded in these cases will depend on many factors, estimates for settlement amounts generally range between $10,000 and $500,000 per claim if electing the early settlement program.
The government has already paid several early claims, which shows there is a process in place to resolve early settlement claims quickly.
It is essential to consult knowledgeable lawyers experienced with the Camp Lejeune claims process to better understand the potential for early settlements and whether you and your family qualify for compensation.