Toxic Exposure

Family Member Claims for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

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Between 1953 and 1987, toxic chemicals leaked into the water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. As a result, service members, their families and civilian workers, may be at an elevated risk of developing serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions.

Thanks to the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, family members may be able to seek compensation for themselves and their loved ones. However, time is limited for family members to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim.

What is Camp Lejeune water contamination?

In the early 1980s, Marine Corps investigators uncovered signs of water contamination at Camp Lejeune that could be traced back to the 1950s. They found that drinking water from two water treatment plants, Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace, contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs include:

  • Benzene
  • Tetrachloroethylene/perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride

The Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water treatment plants provided water for barracks and family housing units. This means service members, their families and civilian workers, living on the base may have been regularly exposed to contaminated water.

How Camp Lejeune water contamination impacts veterans and their families

The VOCs found at Camp Lejeune are linked by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and other researchers to numerous health issues. These health conditions include:

These conditions, as well as others that may have been caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination, could have a grave impact on both victims and their families. These conditions may be life-altering or even fatal.

Who is eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim?

You must meet two general requirements to be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim:

  1. You must have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 for at least 30 days.
  2. You must have suffered harm that was as likely as not caused by exposure to the contaminated water or have a health condition that was as likely as not caused by the toxic exposure.

While this has impacted many veterans, Camp Lejeune water contamination claims may also be filed by family members who were exposed on the base during this period and injured. People who were exposed to the toxic water while in utero and suffered complications as a result may also have a claim.

How family members may file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), part of the Honoring our PACT Act, allows victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination or their families to file administrative claims with the Department of the Navy (“DON”). 

To start the claims process for yourself or a family member, the CLJA form must be completed and returned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General by mail or e-mail.

Under the CLJA, the deadline to file an administrative claim is August 9, 2024. This marks the two-year anniversary of the Act being signed into law. After this time, you will be forever barred from filing a CLJA administrative claim.

What type of compensation is available under a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim?

During the initial administrative claim process, the DON may make you a settlement offer based on the nature of your injury and how long you were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water. The government may offer you an settlement through a manual review of your claim or a framework called the Elective Option (EO).

Only people with certain illnesses who were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water for certain amounts of time are eligible for the EO. However, the EO payout may be insufficient to cover all expenses incurred by you or your loved ones because of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

When can family members file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?

If you want to pursue justice for yourself or a loved one, you must first file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy. If six months pass without a settlement for your Camp Lejeune claim, or if the claim is denied, you may then be allowed to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Also, all claimants only have 180 days from the date their claim is denied to file a lawsuit. After that time, your lawsuit may be forever barred.

Contact a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney

If you or a loved one served, worked or lived at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and developed severe health complications linked to toxic water, a knowledgeable toxic exposure attorney can help you weigh your options for compensation. We are available by email, or you can call 866.855.9017 for more information.

Contact a lawyer today

What can a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer do for family members?

A Camp Lejeune attorney can help you and your loved ones pursue justice for the harms you suffered because of the negligent actions of the U.S. government. A Camp Lejeune lawyer can:

  • Explain the claims process for you
  • Work with you to gather the documents you need to prove your claim
  • Sue the government for you in federal court

Consider contacting a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer at Motley Rice today for a free consultation about your legal rights and compensation.

FAQs for families impacted by Camp Lejeune toxic water

Are family members eligible to file Camp Lejeune water contamination claims?

Yes, family members are eligible to file claims for themselves and for the estate’s of their loved ones.

You don’t have to be a service member or a civilian contractor to be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim. If you can show that you were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more and that you’ve suffered harm that can be linked to that exposure, you can file a claim for compensation.

You may also file a wrongful death claim on for a loved one whose death was caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Do Camp Lejeune water contamination claims impact VA claims?

VA claims and claims filed under the CLJA are handled by separate parts of the government. Filing a CLJA claim won’t impact the VA benefits you or your family members may be currently receiving. Any award from a CLJA claim or lawsuit may be offset by the amount of money that the VA has already paid for those injuries same injuries.

Talking with a toxic exposure attorney can help you understand what you may have to gain by pursuing a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.

How to find out if someone was at Camp Lejeune

If you’re unsure if a loved one was at Camp Lejeune, you may request their records through the National Archives. Through the online portal, you may request the following types of documents:

  • D Form 214 (Report of Separation)
  • Official Military Personnel File (OMPF)
  • Medical and health records

These Camp Lejeune records can help you during the review of your claim or as part of a lawsuit.

What Camp Lejeune records are necessary for a claim?

You may not need any documentation to file a claim, but you may need the following types of records as the claim is evaluated or litigated:

  • Medical records
  • Service records, including form DD214
  • Camp Lejeune housing records

While many of these documents are available online through the federal government or your personal medical provider, an attorney can help you obtain the necessary records and evaluate if more are needed.

Our history of representing veterans and their loved ones

Motley Rice has a long history of helping veterans and their family members seek justice for preventable personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

We represent or have represented veterans and their families suing over: 

  • Exposure to asbestos and other toxic materials
  • 3M earplugs and hearing loss
  • EFP roadside bombs manufactured by terrorists 
  • Exposure to toxins released from burn pits at military facilities

Our law firm has the experience to help you with your claim, litigate your case, and negotiate for a Camp Lejeune settlement.

Read more on our work in support of veterans.

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