Camp Lejeune is, unfortunately, the site of a major water contamination disaster that took place between the 1950s to the 1980s. More than one million people drank, cooked, and bathed with the contaminated water at the base. Over the years, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and other scientific studies have established a strong link between the chemicals in the water and conditions like bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemias, multiple myeloma, scleroderma, and cardiac defects. Exposure to the chemical substances has also been associated with infertility, oral cleft defects, miscarriage, aplastic anemia, and breast cancer among other lasting health conditions.
Can I sue Camp Lejeune?
Fortunately, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which was passed in August 2022, allows the victims to sue the federal government for damages such as injuries and illnesses that were caused by the water. You may be eligible to file for a personal injury claim if you worked, lived, or had been exposed to Camp Lejeune toxic water for at least thirty days from August 1953 to December 1987 and you suffered harm by drinking it. In addition, if someone who was exposed to the contaminated water died or is incapacitated, a legal representative like a child, parent, spouse, or sibling can file a lawsuit and seek compensation on their behalf. If you are planning to file your lawsuit, you should not delay because the CLJA imposes a strict statute of limitations for the victims or any surviving relatives to bring claims.
What you’ll prove
Proving that you were exposed to the poisonous liquid is not enough to get you compensation. You will also have to prove that using the liquid harmed you. First and foremost, you will have to find records showing you were at the base for at least thirty days between August 1, 1953, and December 31st, 1987. Some of the records that you will have to show include military service records, medical records, social security work history records, school records, and housing records. In addition, you must show you were harmed by using the water. However, proving causation is a very challenging thing to do in a tort claim. The victims in toxic tort claims usually have to rely on experts showing that the health problems they are experiencing were caused by being exposed to the substances. The plaintiffs suing the marine base can rely on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) studies and Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations to show the link between their medical conditions and the chemicals in the water at the base.
Damages in the lawsuit
The damages that you may recover include lost income, medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering. However, punitive damages cannot be given to plaintiffs under the CLJA. If you want to strengthen your claim, you will have to work with a lawyer who will help you collect the records showing you lived and worked at the base for 30 days, negotiate a fair settlement and help you get the best possible outcome.