Since it was established in 1942, service members from across the United States have served at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Many of the men and women who were stationed there were joined by their dependents, including spouses and children.
However, for a period of more than 30 years, the water that people at Camp Lejeune used to drink, cook, and wash with was contaminated with a variety of toxic substances known to be harmful to human health. As a result, an increasing number of Marines, family members, contractors, and civil employees have developed life-threatening medical diagnoses.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious health condition after living or working at Camp Lejeune, you may be owed compensation. Although the legal process to access this compensation is complex, Frost Law Firm, PC has the skills and knowledge needed to help you understand how to file a claim for Camp Lejeune water contamination.
4 Steps To Filing a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 created a legal avenue for those harmed by contaminated water to hold the U.S. government responsible for its negligence. This is a rare opportunity that will only be available to victims for a limited period of time.
1. Determine Your Eligibility
To be eligible to file a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, you must have been:
- Present for a period of 30 cumulative days between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987, and
- Diagnosed with one of the many health conditions, cancers, or illnesses linked to exposure.
You do not need to be a veteran or have served in the Marines to file a claim. Veterans from other branches, contract workers, family members, and civilian workers who meet the above requirements may move forward with legal action.
If you are unsure of your eligibility, refer any questions or concerns to an attorney. Don’t assume that you don’t qualify—you could be missing out on life-changing compensation.
2. Collect Evidence
Filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim requires a significant amount of evidence and documentation, including the following:
- Military service records
- Permanent change of station (PCS) orders
- Temporary duty (TDY) orders
- DD Form 214
- Leasing or rental agreements
- Employment records
- Medical records
- Medical bills
The goal is to compile sufficient evidence to prove that you were present at Camp Lejeune during the prescribed period of time, and that you have developed a verifiable related health condition. Taking the raw information found in these and other documents and crafting it into a compelling narrative can require a significant time commitment and a broad understanding of the legal process, though, which is why many victims choose to work closely with a lawyer who can prioritize their best interests.
3. File an Administrative Claim
You are required to fill out and file a formal administrative claim. Similar to a Form 95, this is a crucial step in the process. You must clearly and accurately state:
- Who you are
- How and when you were exposed
- The illness(es) you’ve been diagnosed with
- The damages you’ve suffered
There is no room for error in this step. Lawyers from the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) will review your claim and render a decision within 180 days of your filing. Any mistakes or factually incorrect information could result in your claim being denied.
Ideally, your administrative claim will be accepted and settled without the need for a jury trial. However, even if your initial claim is approved, there will be no opportunity to start the process over and ask for more money later. A lawyer from Frost Law Firm, PC will make sure your claim is filed correctly the first time.
4. File a Case in Federal Court
If you’ve exhausted your options through the administrative claims process, you are entitled to file a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim in federal court. These lawsuits are handled in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
There will be a discovery phase prior to going to trial. Discovery is the exchange of information between two parties, and it is a necessary step to prove to the government that you have sufficient evidence for your lawsuit.
What About VA Disability Benefits?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs currently provides disability benefits to veterans, reservists, and guardsmen who:
- Served for a cumulative 30 days at either Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between Aug. 1953 and Dec. 1987,
- Have been diagnosed with one of eight presumptive conditions, and
- Were not dishonorably discharged.
Receiving VA disability benefits for a condition related to exposure to toxic water does not disqualify you from filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim, although any benefits you receive could have a minor impact on your total awarded compensation.
It is important to note that filing for disability benefits through the VA can be complicated, and there is no guarantee that your claim will be approved. Even if it is, there is a chance that the VA will assign you a disability rating that is inappropriately low for your current condition.
A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Accredited Attorney from Frost Law Firm, PC is prepared to provide unparalleled guidance and support throughout the VA disability claims process.
Frost Law Firm, PC Proudly Stands Up for the Rights of Veterans
Many of the men and women who were previously stationed at Camp Lejeune now live all over the United States, adding an additional layer of complexity to an already difficult legal matter. If your health has been irreversibly harmed by the contaminated water that was allowed to proliferate at this Marine base, you shouldn’t also have to navigate a confusing legal landscape from several states away.
We have the experience, dedication, knowledge, and tenacity needed to handle even the most complex legal matters. To discuss your case in a confidential setting or to learn more about how to file a claim for Camp Lejeune water contamination, call our law office or fill out our convenient online form. Our first meeting is always free.