On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (Honoring our PACT Act) after the final version of the bill passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming majority. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which is part of the Honoring our Pact ACT, specifically aims to compensate the many victims of drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Between 1953 and 1987, contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina caused cancer, birth defects, and countless other severe medical problems (including many that emerged only years or decades later) for victims who were exposed.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act finally gives military family members and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune the ability to file claims against the federal government. Through these claims, victims can obtain compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.
But simply filing a claim or lawsuit does not mean it will be easy to obtain a settlement, and it also doesn’t guarantee that the payout offered by the government will be just or fair. So, veterans and family members considering Camp Lejeune claims need to know what challenges they can expect and what kind of compensation they may be entitled to.
The federal government acknowledges that between 1953 and 1987, the ground water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina became contaminated with toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals entered the water supply from multiple sources, including waste disposal sites, leaking storage tanks, and industrial spills.
Exposure to VOCs is associated with a significantly increased risk of various illnesses and disorders, including:
These examples just scratch the surface. Medical experts suspect that VOCs can cause or contribute to many other health conditions.
For years, the government knew about the contamination at Camp Lejeune but hid the truth. By the time everything came to light and the federal government admitted fault, North Carolina’s 10-year state of limitations for claims against polluters left military personnel and their families with very few legal options. Although veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune could sometimes still get approved for VA benefits, they could not file a lawsuit or get anything close to fair compensation for their medical bills, losses, and pain.
All that changed with the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The new federal law bypasses North Carolina’s statute of limitations and allows Camp Lejeune lawsuits to move forward. The CLJA also acknowledges the government’s fault at Camp Lejeune, which is important for those who want to file claims.
In a typical personal injury claim, proving the defendant is at fault requires a lot of investigation and evidence. But since the government has already admitted fault, Camp Lejeune victims are entitled to compensation if they can show that they:
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The Camp Lejeune Justice Act does not set aside a specific amount of money for Camp Lejeune victims. Each Camp Lejeune settlement will be paid out on a case-by-case basis according to the merits of the case.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that between 2022 and 2031, the federal government will pay out $6.7 billion in Camp Lejeune settlements. The CBO also estimates that the government could pay out as much as $15 billion in financial compensation by the time all Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been settled.
Fifteen billion dollars may seem like a lot of money. But it’s important to remember that, according to estimates from an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, up to 1 million veterans, military contractors, and military family members may have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
And that’s only an estimate. The truth is, we don’t know exactly how many people suffered and continue to suffer because of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water. And because many people don’t develop cancer or other health issues until long after exposure to toxic chemicals, the list of victims will continue to increase as former Camp Lejeune residents get older.
It’s impossible to say how much your Camp Lejeune claim is worth without knowing the unique facts of your case. The amount of compensation you can receive by filing a claim will depend on your specific circumstances and the preparation and skill of your attorney.
Our expectation is that claims on the low end may settle for a few thousand dollars, while others could exceed $1 million. For many Camp Lejeune victims who developed cancer, settlements in the $100,000–$500,000 range may be realistic. However, because the Honoring our PACT Act was passed and signed into law only recently, the first cases still need to work their way through the court system, and there’s a lot we don’t know yet.
If you want the most accurate picture of what to expect in terms of a Camp Lejeune settlement amount, you should get in touch with LTC Karl Truman, who is an experienced attorney familiar with Camp Lejeune cases.
Many factors can affect how much your Camp Lejeune lawsuit is worth. Some of the most important factors include:
Nearly two dozen medical conditions have been definitively linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Toxic exposure-related medical conditions vary in terms of their long-term projected medical treatment costs, outlooks, survival rates, severity of symptoms, and range of emotional pain and suffering. Since the effects of the exposure vary, the expected settlement payouts will also vary. A wrongful death or major birth defect case will likely lead to a much higher settlement than an anemia diagnosis, for example.
Economic damages include past and future medical bills, lost wages, and other financial burdens you and your loved ones have had to shoulder because of your diagnosis or disability. An attorney can help you gather the necessary records to prove your expenses, and your lawyer can also work with doctors, life care planners, and other specialists to calculate your future needs.
Those who have been harmed by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have suffered in ways that don’t come with price tags. Money can never make up for permanent disability or bring back lost time and missed memories with a loved one. But those who have had to live with significant pain, suffering, and emotional anguish are still entitled to compensation for these real and crushing damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to build a compelling argument for non-economic damages and value these damages properly during a claim or lawsuit.
Some veterans and family members may already be receiving disability or health care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The number of Camp Lejeune victims receiving these benefits has grown since the 2012 passage of the Camp Lejeune Families Act.
If you are currently receiving VA benefits for medical treatment or disability related to Camp Lejeune water contamination, you can still file a lawsuit—and you should, since it’s the only way to receive compensation for pain and suffering. However, the value of the benefits you’re already receiving from the VA will be subtracted from any settlement compensation payout you receive. You cannot get “double compensation” for medical bills and other economic damages.
As mentioned above, you do not need to prove the government’s liability in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit; the federal government has already admitted fault. But to get a fair settlement payout, your attorney will still need to gather a significant amount of evidence and argue your case with skill.
At the most basic level, you’ll need to prove that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was the likely cause of your condition (or your loved one’s condition). If you can establish that fact, then the law says you are entitled to compensation. But settlement amounts can vary widely, so you don’t want just any settlement. You deserve a fair settlement that accounts for all your damages.
Getting a fair settlement may require you to provide evidence such as:
An experienced attorney can help you identify the evidence you need and then prepare your case so that you’ll have the best possible chance of a fair settlement to your Camp Lejeune claim.
By now, you’ve probably seen radio and television ads from big law firms promising a free consultation and, potentially, a big payout for Camp Lejeune claims. Right now, there are “Camp Lejeune lawyers” all over the country promising they can handle these cases.
So why choose Karl Truman and the attorneys of Karl Truman Law Office? Here are a few big reasons.
Military service members, contractors, and families make deep sacrifices for the good of their country and their communities. The least they should be able to expect is that the government will exercise reasonable care for their health and safety. And at Camp Lejeune, the government let them down. Now, victims deserve accountability and compensation.
If you or your family has been affected, the team at Karl Truman Law Office is here to help. To schedule your free consultation, please call us today at 502-222-2222 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form for Camp Lejeune victims and their families.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (n.d.). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/index.html
Congressional Budget Office. (2022, June 6). Estimated Budgetary Effects of H.R. 3967, Honoring Our PACT Act of 2021, as Passed by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2022 and as Amended by the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2022-06/hr3967_senate_version.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.