On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, legislation that includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The passing of this crucial and long-awaited legislation is a huge win for victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base.
Around one million military personnel, their families, contractors, and civilians were exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic substances at Camp Lejeune for over three decades. As a result, countless Americans have suffered a range of cancers and other serious chronic illnesses, many of which have been fatal. Before the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, those exposed to severely contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were unable to hold the government accountable.
Disability benefits and medical coverage for certain Camp Lejeune illnesses and health effects through the Veterans Affairs (VA) have been in place since 2012. However, there’s been no legal recourse for those impacted by the Camp Lejeune water contamination – and civilians were left without any financial support. Thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, those who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 for at least 30 days may file Camp Lejeune lawsuits to sue the government for pain and suffering, lost wages, wrongful death, and other damages.
Water contamination victims will have a two-year window to file a Camp Lejeune claim. If the claim is denied, individuals can then file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. Because of the limited timeframe, it’s important to seek legal advice if you or a loved one suffered or died from one of the many health conditions from water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The experienced team of Louisiana water contamination lawyers at Herman, Herman & Katz can assess your Camp Lejeune case, discuss your options, and get the legal process started to ensure you’re properly compensated.
Why Camp Lejeune Victims Should File a Toxic Water Lawsuit
Following government and military secrecy and inaction after the discovery of toxic substances in the Camp Lejeune water in 1982, it took decades of advocacy and outcry to get legislation passed that allows legal recourse for those harmed. With the passing of the PACT Act and Camp Lejeune Justice Act, victims can now file Camp Lejeune lawsuits. It’s important to understand why there are legal grounds for those exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
Between 1953 and 1987, the main drinking water supply at Camp Lejeune was heavily contaminated with tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzyne, and other chemicals dangerous to humans. The confirmed sources of contamination were fuel storage tanks, waste disposal sites (including the disposal of solvents by an off-base dry cleaner), and industrial spills.
In the 1970s, the military was aware of the risks of solvents in the drinking water and was ordered to dispose of them properly. Less than a decade later, water testing at Camp Lejeune revealed high levels of VOCs, yet it took three years for the most contaminated water wells to be shut down. To make matters worse, the government hid what happened and did little to inform those exposed and/or already harmed by toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
In addition to the cancers and other illnesses that victims of water contamination have experienced, mothers who lived at the North Carolina Marine Corps Base had a high number of stillbirths. Infertility rates were also high, and birth defects and childhood cancers took the lives of many children born at Camp Lejeune.
While it took years for the government to learn of the high level of toxic substances in the water at Camp Lejeune, they knew of the dangers and could have done more to protect those exposed. Unfortunately, besides disability for veterans and medical cost coverage for veterans and their family members with certain illnesses, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune had been left with no legal options – until the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
With the new legislation, Camp Lejeune lawsuits will likely become a class action or be consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). After all, an estimated one million veterans, their families, civilians, and contractors were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, and an influx of claims is expected.
What Is the Honoring Our PACT Act?
While the Honoring Our PACT Act opens the door for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits, it does much more. The PACT Act was created because military service members are frequently exposed to dangerous toxins. The smoke from burn pits and other sources of toxic substances during training or while serving have caused many respiratory conditions, cancers, and other illnesses. The PACT Act expands benefits and health care coverage for several illnesses and makes it much easier to access.
Thanks to the new legislation, veterans do not have to prove their condition is linked to their time in the military; the 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, as well as other conditions associated with “Agent Orange,” are all considered presumptive. This means veterans are no longer saddled with the burden of proving the cause of their condition if it’s a presumptive illness under the PACT Act.
The new legislation is especially positive for military personnel exposed to toxic smoke from burn pits. The VA had health care and benefits that veterans exposed to toxic substances could apply for, but more than 70 percent of claims related to burn pits are denied. The PACT Act now provides the support our veterans deserve.
Why You Should Contact a Lawyer to File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The passing of the PACT Act and Camp Lejeune Justice Act had some frustrating delays this summer. Finally, it became law on August 10, 2022, offering legal options for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims. However, with a looming, two-year window to file Camp Lejeune claims, those affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune should immediately consult with a toxic water lawyer.
The health conditions linked to toxic substances in the water at the North Carolina Marine Corps Base are serious, and many have been fatal. They’ve caused permanent disabilities and forever changed the lives of countless Camp Lejeune victims and their families. Some of the illnesses linked to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
- Parkinson’s disease
Through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, those who lived or worked at or near Camp Lejeune and suffered from these illnesses or died, as a result, may seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, wrongful death, and other damages.
The attorneys at Herman, Herman & Katz have extensive experience representing victims of toxic water exposure, including those harmed by the BP oil spill, and are here to help victims and survivors impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejeune. We’ve closely followed the development of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, understand its complexities, and are ready to file Camp Lejeune claims to get the justice, accountability and compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call 1-844- 943-7626 for a free consultation.