After a long-fought battle for acknowledgment and justice, a significant stride was made when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was passed. However, there are still many questions surrounding how lawsuits will work and who can file them. The first question is, who can we sue? The key defendant in the case is the United States federal government. Another question is how much each plaintiff will obtain. That question will vary depending on the injuries the person has. Other common questions and answers are below. If you are still wondering whether you can file a claim and get compensation, you must contact a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney in Philadelphia to start a claim.
How do attorney's fees work?
These cases are unique since plaintiffs are suing the federal government. Even so, most attorneys will not receive a fee until after the matter resolves. Most firms are working on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not lose any money or risk losing money. However, you must always ask about the fee structure during an initial consultation.
The Federal Tort Claim Act limits contingency fees that lawyers can obtain in these cases. The cap is 25% of your settlement offer. Most attorneys will charge a 40% contingency fee for these cases, but the FTCA provisions can change that. The statute is vital to determining attorney fees and reducing any costs an attorney may try to impose.
Who can file a claim?
While very clearly, service members can file a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, there are specific requirements you must meet to be eligible to file a claim. Per the legislation, these parties can file a claim:
(a) Anyone (including veterans and their families) who lived at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 1 month anytime between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
(b) Anyone who worked at Camp Lejeune (including civilian contractors) for a minimum of 1 month anytime between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
(c) Anyone who was "otherwise exposed" to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
The ability to file a claim is only the first hurdle in getting compensation. You will then need to prove that you were a resident by providing residency documentation. Veterans will prove residency through their service records. Civilians and non-military personnel will need to use other documentation such as employment records. While it is essential to show you were on the base during this period, these documents may not be in your possession. Finding or requesting these documents to file a claim will be vital.
How did the water become contaminated?
There are several causes for the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The reason was underground storage tank leaks, industrial area spills, and an outside dry-cleaning business. The cause of the toxic water was various poisonous chemicals coming from two water treatment plants in the area.
What if a person has passed away?
While there are many cases where veterans and others on base have succumbed to their injuries, that doesn't mean the United States government is off the hook. Any personal representative of the deceased person can file a claim through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Their death does not have to be directly linked to water contamination. Still, they must have suffered a medical condition.
What diseases did the water contamination cause?
While there are many cases of cancer linked to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, there are other health conditions that residents suffer, such as:
- Renal toxicity
- Parkinson's disease
- Cardiac defect
- Brain injuries
- Birth injury
- Birth defect
- Bone marrow conditions
What are the next steps?
You must first collect all relevant documentation and evidence and meet with a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit attorney. The first step in getting compensation is to file a claim with the Department of Defense. The claim must be approved or denied within six months before you can move on to the next step. Some claims will resolve with the DOD, while others may not. You will need the advice of a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney from Kwartler Manus, LLC, to begin your legal claim today. Call our office at (267) 214-8608 to schedule a consultation today.