Following the discovery of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been working diligently to provide those affected with benefits. This includes a special program for Camp Lejeune veterans and their families harmed by drinking, bathing in, or washing clothes in contaminated water.
But navigating this complicated compensation process can be tricky if you’re not sure what type of claim you should file or how to do so correctly.
In this guide, we’ll lay out everything you need to know about filing a Camp Lejeune compensation claim from start to finish.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Between 1953 and 1987, the drinking water at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina was contaminated with toxic chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and perchloroethylene (PCE). The contamination is believed to have been caused by leaking fuel tanks and industrial activity on the base.
As a result, many veterans and their family members who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during this period have suffered a range of health problems, including cancers, birth defects, and other chronic illnesses.
The U.S. government has recognized the responsibility for the contamination and provides compensation to eligible individuals.
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Qualifying for Camp Lejeune Compensation
To qualify for Camp Lejeune’s compensation, veterans and their family members must have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the designated period when the water was contaminated with toxic chemicals. Additionally, veterans must have been diagnosed with one of the specified medical conditions, such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or bladder cancer.
TorHoerman Law, a law firm, states that family members can also qualify for compensation if they have been diagnosed with certain birth defects or other medical conditions related to water contamination. The law firm adds that the required service period for veterans is a minimum of 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Compensation Claim
According to Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claim, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows for the filing of claims by families affected by water contamination at Camp Lejeune for the first time. Thousands of veterans and their families who were unknowingly exposed to harmful chemicals through Camp Lejeune’s drinking water can now file a claim against the U.S. government.
Filing a lawsuit for Camp Lejeune water contamination is the only way for individuals and families to receive compensation for their suffering, damages, and losses related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water.
To file a Camp Lejeune compensation claim, veterans must complete the appropriate application form and provide supporting documentation, such as medical records and service records. It is important to ensure that the application is accurate and complete, including all relevant medical conditions and the dates of service at Camp Lejeune.
Veterans may also choose to work with a Veterans Service Officer or an attorney to assist with the application process. The application will then be reviewed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the veteran will be notified of the decision regarding their claim.
Common Challenges in Camp Lejeune Compensation Claims
According to Indy Week, for 34 years, over a million people who lived at Camp Lejeune were exposed to harmful chemicals in their water. As a result, many veterans who drank the contaminated water suffer from life-threatening diseases such as kidney, prostate, bladder, and liver cancer.
Despite their service, accessing VA benefits like disability compensation for their suffering is not easy.
The process of filing for Camp Lejeune compensation can be complex and challenging. Some of the common issues that veterans and their families may face include denials, appeals, and delays in the claims process. It’s important to ensure that all necessary forms are completed accurately and thoroughly and that all required documentation is provided to support the claim.
Additionally, veterans may face challenges in obtaining medical evidence to support their claim, especially if they have been out of the military for a long time. Seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney or advocate may help navigate these challenges.
Resources for Navigating Camp Lejeune Compensation Claims
Navigating Camp Lejeune compensation claims can be a challenging and overwhelming process. Fortunately, there are many resources available to assist veterans and their families.
Advocacy organizations, such as the Veterans Benefits Assistance Network and Disabled American Veterans, can guide on filing claims and appealing denials. Legal clinics, like the Veterans Legal Clinic at Harvard Law School, can offer pro bono legal assistance to veterans.
Support groups, such as the Camp Lejeune Poisoned Water Survivors group on Facebook, can provide emotional support and a sense of community.
By utilizing these resources, veterans and their families can navigate the complexities of Camp Lejeune compensation claims with more confidence and ease.
Working With an Attorney
Working with an attorney can be a helpful option for veterans and their families when filing for Camp Lejeune compensation. An attorney can provide legal expertise and guidance through the claims process, ensuring that all necessary documentation is submitted and deadlines are met.
They can also help with appeals and negotiations with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if a claim is denied or the compensation offered is insufficient.
Additionally, attorneys can assist with exploring other legal options, such as lawsuits against the responsible parties, which may result in additional compensation for affected veterans and their families.
Recent Updates to Camp Lejeune Compensation
According to ConsumerNotice.org, the potential minimum settlement amount for Camp Lejeune lawsuits has been estimated by some experts to be $10 million, and it is projected that the claims could cost over $163 billion to the government in 10 years. Currently, there are no announced settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
According to some lawyers, veterans with a 100% disability rating who have been approved for a Camp Lejeune disability claim may receive an average of $3,000 in VA disability compensation. However, VA disability compensation will vary according to the disability rating and isn’t included in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit claim.
Veterans whose claims were denied can appeal their case with the help of an accredited veterans service officer or a VA-accredited lawyer.
Navigating Camp Lejeune compensation claims can be a complex and challenging process for veterans and their families. Understanding the history of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, the eligibility criteria for compensation, and the steps involved in filing a claim is crucial.
Common challenges in the claims process and available resources for support, including working with an attorney, should also be considered. It is important to stay up-to-date on any changes or updates to the compensation program to ensure that veterans and their families receive the maximum benefits.