Can I Sue If I Was Affected by Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

For more than three decades, the water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was tainted with harmful industrial solvents. These have caused health problems for those that were stationed there. During this time, service members, their families, and civilian employees were exposed to these contaminants, leading to serious health repercussions that persist today. If you or a loved one have been affected by this unfortunate incident, understanding your legal rights is crucial. This article explores the health implications of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, your potential legal rights, and the steps to consider if you decide to file a lawsuit.

Health Implications of the Contamination

The water at Camp Lejeune was found to contain toxic substances like trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and other harmful chemicals. These were present at levels far exceeding safety standards, resulting in prolonged exposure for anyone consuming the water. Over time, this exposure can lead to various severe health conditions, including different types of cancer, neurological disorders, reproductive issues, and other debilitating diseases. The Marine Corps and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have recognized these health effects, but that acknowledgment doesn’t erase the physical and emotional toll taken on those affected.

Legal Rights and Possible Lawsuits

If you or a loved one has been impacted by the Camp Lejeune water contamination, it’s essential to know that you have legal rights. Depending on the specific circumstances, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Such legal action could be taken against different parties, including the entities responsible for the contamination. In such a lawsuit, you would generally need to prove that the exposure to the contaminated water directly led to the health issues experienced. However, it’s important to note that before you can sue the federal government, you must start by filing an administrative claim before the federal agency that reportedly caused you or your loved one harm.

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Particularly, the VA offers benefits for veterans and their families who suffer from health conditions related to water contamination at the affected camps. Eligibility for these benefits depends on factors such as the length and timing of your stay at the affected marine bases, as well as the nature of your medical problem. If eligible, these benefits can cover healthcare costs associated with treating these conditions.

A significant legislative change took place on August 10, 2022, when the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law. This includes a provision known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which is a law that allows those affected by the contaminated water to continue seeking compensation for resulting damages. To make a successful claim, victims must show that their exposure to the contaminated water is at least as likely as not to have caused them harm. They can do this by providing medical records, base housing records, and other evidence linking their health issues to water contamination. 

Conclusion

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has had far-reaching and devastating effects. Still, it’s important for those affected to know that they have legal rights and remedies available to them. While this process may seem daunting, understanding your rights and knowing how to seek remedies can be a crucial step toward seeking justice and compensation for the wrongs endured. Remember, it’s always recommended to seek professional legal advice to navigate these complicated matters effectively. It may be tedious to keep up with these details, but they will help you in the long run.

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