Residents and service members at Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, faced exposure to contaminated water from August 1953 to December 1987. If you or a loved one has developed a disease after living at Camp Lejeune, a lawyer may help you seek compensation for your damages.
Fill out the contact form to arrange a meeting with a personal injury attorney today.
What Are the Allegations Related to Camp Lejeune?
The core allegation related to Camp Lejeune is that, for more than three decades, the water that residents of Camp Lejeune drank, bathed in, and cooked with contained harmful contaminants. Those contaminants, studies have found, increase the risk of those residents developing serious illnesses—including but not limited to cancer.
Those who have developed illnesses since living at Camp Lejeune allege that they were unnecessarily exposed to life-threatening contaminants. As a result, some of them are pursuing compensation from liable parties.
How Did the Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune Become Contaminated?
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) explains that:
- The U.S. military opened Camp Lejeune in 1942 as a base for Marines and their families.
- In 1982, representatives of the U.S. Marine Corps found that water supplied to residents at Camp Lejeune contained a toxic amount of chemicals—this is water that residents drank (presumably on a daily basis) and used for other purposes.
- The contamination likely dates back to the 1950s, with 1953 being the year that authorities now recognize as the beginning of the water contamination.
The source of contamination was an off-base dry cleaning business that reportedly disposed of its waste in a way that contaminated the water source to Camp Lejeune. As a result, Camp Lejeune residents were drinking toxic amounts of PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene) until the Corps discovered the contamination in December 1987.
Who Is Eligible to File or Join a Lawsuit Related to Camp Lejeune?
Per VA guidelines, those who lived at Camp Lejeune for a period of at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may be eligible to get disability benefits. If you meet these criteria, you may also be eligible to join a lawsuit related to Camp Lejeune.
Under the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, any service member who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune between August August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may receive all of their healthcare through VA. There will be no charge for your care if your health conditions include:
- Renal toxicity
- Hepatic steatosis
- Female infertility
- Bladder cancer
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Don’t assume that you are ineligible to join a lawsuit if you don’t fit the above criteria. Speak with a personal injury lawyer before you rule out this possibility. The Camp Lejeune case is nuanced, and you may be eligible to join a lawsuit even if you don’t meet VA’s criteria for disability benefits.
How Could You Obtain Compensation for Your Damages?
You may be eligible to join or file a lawsuit against the U.S. government or other liable parties. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is also providing disability benefits to veterans who meet certain criteria.
The United States Congress recently passed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. This act grants unprecedented benefits to veterans who suffer health problems because of toxic exposure while in the Armed Forces—including those poisoned at Camp Lejeune.
VA will oversee the disbursement of benefits related to the PACT Act. Under this act, you may be entitled to healthcare and other disability benefits.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) will also allow attorneys to file lawsuits in United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This is a major development, as it was previously difficult to hold environmental polluters in North Carolina legally responsible. You may be an eligible plaintiff for one of these lawsuits.
To recap, you may receive benefits and compensation through:
- A lawsuit
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Any lawsuit you join could provide benefits in addition to or in place of any VA benefits that you may receive.
Damages Those Exposed to Toxins at Camp Lejeune May Seek
As a plaintiff in a lawsuit, the hope is that you will receive compensation for all negative effects of your contamination at Camp Lejeune. The ailments connected to contamination are quite serious—even fatal, in many cases—and your recoverable damages may include:
Your Pain and Suffering
Health problems due to drinking contaminated water can be debilitating. From cancer to neurological problems, victims like you or your loved one may:
- Experience depression as a symptom of health problems or because of the effects your health problems have had on your life
- Suffer cognitive problems, as the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health explains that contaminated water can affect brain function
- Experience physical pain as a consequence of your health problems
- Have difficulty forming romantic relationships because of ongoing health issues
- Suffer from substance abuse because of the stress of your health problems
- Have a poor quality of life
These and other forms of pain and suffering may entitle you to compensation. Your attorney may also seek compensation for any therapy, counseling, medications, or other treatments you require for your pain and suffering.
Medical Treatment for Ailments Related to Contaminated Water
Any medical costs that you believe stem from the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may be recoverable. The treatment you need will depend on the nature of your ailments but may include:
- Doctors visits for diagnosis of your health problems
- Medical imaging to diagnose cancer or other internal ailments
- In-home caregiver services
- Medical equipment
Each plaintiff in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit will have different medical expenses. Your attorney will work hard to cover your healthcare costs.
When victims of water-related poisoning become sick, they are often unable to work. If that’s been the case for you, you may lose:
- Your income
- Health insurance, retirement benefits, and other benefits that your job provided
- The opportunity to earn promotions, progress in your professional field, and achieve greater earning power
- Any fulfillment that you derived from your work
The loss of income is a major piece of most civil lawsuits. If the U.S. government is responsible for your inability to work, then it may cover the total cost of your unemployment.
A Loved One’s Wrongful Death
Lymphoma. Myeloma. Leukemia. Miscarriage. These and other health problems caused by water contamination are, more often than not, fatal. If you’ve lost a loved one from an ailment possibly related to Camp Lejeune water contamination, you may get compensation for:
- Your pain and suffering, and the decedent’s pain and suffering before they passed away
- The cost of the decedent’s funeral and burial
- Lost financial support caused by the decedent’s death
- Loss of a spouse or parent and the companionship and guidance they provided
- The decedent’s healthcare expenses
- Any other damages that your family has endured
One of the tragic realities is that Marines and their families were selflessly serving their country at the same time they were being unwittingly poisoned. This is a level of negligence that nobody should overlook.
Who Is Liable for the Damages That Camp Lejeune Victims Have Suffered?
The United States government is and will be the primary defendant in class action and individual lawsuits related to Camp Lejeune.
Due to various laws and rules, the U.S. government is often immune from liability for certain harmful actions. Due to the recent passage of legislation, it will no longer be immune from lawsuits related to Camp Lejeune.
Each case is unique. Your attorney can determine if any defendants aside from, or in addition to, the U.S. government owes you compensation.
What You Should Do if You Were Poisoned at Camp Lejeune
Based on estimates of how many Marines trained at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, it’s likely that more than one million people have suffered from the water contamination on the base. You are not alone, and the wheels of justice are already in motion.
Your next step may be to contact a law firm that handles Camp Lejeune lawsuits. The attorney can:
- Listen to your account of your or your loved one’s time at Camp Lejeune
- Review any medical documentation that you have
- Explain your options for pursuing justice
- Help you move forward with the legal process or any other appropriate course of action
While you may be aware that a lawsuit is a possibility, actually enrolling in a class action lawsuit is a different challenge. A lawyer can handle the process for you.
Ongoing Litigation Related to Camp Lejeune—You May Be Eligible to Join
While past lawsuits related to Camp Lejeune have been dismissed, recent legislative changes mean that lawsuits may have a greater likelihood of settling or going to trial. These lawsuits will materialize quickly, and you may want to join as soon as possible.
An attorney can enroll you in the right class action lawsuit based on your personal circumstances. They may also discuss whether filing an individual lawsuit makes sense for you.
If You Should Hire an Attorney to Pursue Compensation for You
When you hire an attorney, you may have several motivations. Two common goals of those who hire personal injury attorneys are:
- Preserving your current health
- Getting compensation to improve your life and protect your loved ones
An attorney can preserve your health by handling the legal process for you. While you could represent yourself, you should consider the potential downsides. If you don’t hire a lawyer and pursue compensation on your own, you may:
- Have far less time to focus on your health
- Exhaust and stress yourself, potentially worsening your physical and cognitive condition
- Be quickly confused and overwhelmed by the legal aspects of your case
- Pay out of your own pocket for all case-related costs, which there will be
When you research and consider what goes into a civil lawsuit—especially one involving the United States government—you may determine that at least consulting an attorney makes sense. For many plaintiffs, hiring the attorney is worthwhile.
Services a Camp Lejeune Personal Injury Lawyer Will Perform for You
Whether they represent only you or an entire class of plaintiffs, an attorney will seek a resolution to your case. Their goal will be to secure the compensation that covers all of your damages.
Along the way, the attorney handling your Camp Lejeune lawsuit may:
- Gather evidence related to the case: There is ample evidence that the water provided to residents of Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 was dangerous. Your attorney may gather such evidence and present it during your case.
- Show proof of damages: Your lawyer may obtain medical records, proof that you resided at Camp Lejeune during the specific period, and other documentation showing how you’ve suffered because of the contamination. If you join a class action lawsuit, then the records of a few plaintiffs may represent the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, too.
- Negotiate for a fair settlement: Ultimately, an attorney’s job is to get the compensation their clients deserve. Large defendants often settle cases, though this outcome is never a guarantee. Your Lejeune lawsuit lawyer will negotiate for a fair settlement and may also maintain the option of going to trial.
Attorneys also handle the day-to-day details of a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, from making phone calls to submitting paperwork and arranging meetings. A lawyer will do the work. You just focus on recovery.
Take Action Now to Pursue Justice
You should not wait to get legal help. Many lawsuits against the U.S. government will be time-sensitive. If you wait too long, you could miss the enrollment period, or the statute of limitations may expire.
Fill out the contact form and speak soon with an attorney who can lead your Camp Lejeune lawsuit. The attorney may also discuss the possibility of getting VA benefits and may be instrumental in that process as well.