About a million military members, civilian personnel, and their families were potentially exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune between the 1950s and 1980s. Some individuals who consumed the water have developed various diseases and adverse health effects. For decades, injured parties were barred from suing the U.S. Government to recover compensation for the harm they suffered. However, they recently received a vehicle for relief after President Biden signed the Honoring Our PACT Act, which contained a provision allowing legal action to be taken against the Government. By filing a lawsuit, veterans and others affected by the contaminated water can seek financial recovery for damages. Pursuing a claim can be challenging, as several steps must be followed. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney can assist with the process.
If you need legal help in Atlanta, call The Law Office of Brian H. Sumrall at (404) 857-3835 or submit an online contact form to set up a consultation and learn how we may be able to assist with your case.
Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
In 1982, the U.S. Marine Corps discovered that two of eight water treatment plants at Camp Lejeune were supplying contaminated water to individuals on base. Researchers concluded that toxic water exposure began in the 1950s.
Multiple sources of water contamination were identified. These included waste disposal practices, leaking underground storage tanks, and industrial spills.
The toxic compounds found in the water include:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE),
- Perchloroethylene (PCE),
- Benzene, and
- Vinyl chloride.
Studies have linked these toxins to various adverse health conditions, including cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, female infertility, and miscarriage.
Some of those stationed, working, or otherwise present at Camp Lejeune during the exposure period either developed a medical issue or are at risk for developing a disease or disorder. The harm caused by drinking the contaminated water has or can lead to high medical bills, temporary or permanent disability, pain and suffering, and other expenses and losses.
Because of existing laws, veterans, civilian workers, and their families could not file lawsuits against the U.S. Government to receive compensation for damages. However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which President Biden signed as part of the Honoring Our PACT Act in August of 2022, creates an exception. Now, affected individuals can sue the federal Government to seek financial recovery.
The process for filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim involves several steps, including the following:
Meeting Eligibility Requirements
Individuals may pursue action against the U.S. Government only if they lived, worked, or were present at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days. Additionally, they must have been on the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
Several documents can show that the individual or their family member was at the base during these dates.
The paperwork can include, but is not limited to:
- Military records,
- Employment documents,
- Utility bills, and
- Tax returns.
Proving the Injury Was Related to Toxic Water Exposure
Relief under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is available to those who have developed a disease or other adverse health effects from exposure to toxic water.
The person bringing the claim must prove there is a relationship between their health condition and toxic water exposure.
To seek fair compensation, the claimant may include scientific studies demonstrating that the compounds in the water have led to harm. They should also provide bills for medical treatment, other expenses incurred because of the injury, and future costs for care and other damages. It is also helpful to have experts testify about the effects of the injury on the individual’s life.
Taking the Case to Court
Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, injured parties have two years from the date the law was enacted to bring a claim against the Government. The person bringing the claim must adhere to the processes for submitting personal injury suits; otherwise, their case could be delayed. Lawsuits must be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over these cases.
Were You Injured Because of Toxic Water Exposure
If you were stationed or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and developed a medical condition, reach out to an attorney right away. They can examine the facts and determine whether you have a valid claim for compensation from the U.S. Government. A lawyer can also help locate necessary documentation, prepare forms, and calculate fair financial recovery. Additionally, they can reach out to experts to help prove the link between your or your loved one’s illness and toxic water exposure and to assess damages.Schedule a free initial consultation with our Atlanta attorney at The Law Office of Brian H. Sumrall by contacting us at (404) 857-3835.