Bagen Law Firm | October 18, 2022 | Uncategorized
Recent changes to federal law have created a new cause of action that allows those who the government carelessly exposed to grave harm at Camp Lejeune to potentially recover financial compensation from the federal government. These veterans and their families have suffered years of physical and emotional torment from the illnesses that resulted from the toxic water they bathed in and ingested.
Contaminated Water Has Injured Scores of People
Estimates are that roughly one million people were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over 35 years. Numerous veterans and their family members have been diagnosed with illnesses after ingesting and contacting several hazardous chemicals. The substances at issue cause various types of cancer and other illnesses. While eight illnesses are presumed connected to toxic Camp Lejeune water, those exposed have suffered from many more conditions.
The Government Exposed Servicemembers and Their Families for 35 Years
Three different water treatment plants at Camp Lejeune had contaminated water. The first plant used water from wells that were dangerously close to a chemical dump, where numerous hazardous substances lay buried. The chemicals in the ground seeped into the groundwater.
The second plant drew water from wells contaminated with chemicals dumped by a dry cleaner several miles away. These chemicals drifted downhill and into the ground. The third plant used water from the contaminated plants during times of high demand.
Many years passed before the government figured out what was happening at Camp Lejeune. The government should have known there were potential water purity issues because the wells were vulnerable to degradation. Even still, the government did not completely cut off flows from these wells until seven years after it learned of the potential that they might be contaminated.
Camp Lejeune Veterans Have Fallen Ill and Died at Higher Rates
For many years, people who spent time at Camp Lejeune were mystified as to why they and their fellow veterans were getting sick at a higher rate. Although the government knew the nature of the issue, it did not share the necessary information with those who needed to know.
There have been several diseases associated with toxic Camp Lejeune water. Ingesting these contaminants for a sustained period can lead to various health effects. Here are some of the common symptoms connected with Camp Lejeune water.
Symptoms Related to Cancers
The most common disease that has impacted Camp Lejeune veterans and their families has been different forms of cancer. These tumors have formed on different parts of the digestive system that have been in direct contact with the water. When drinking water, it is swallowed through the esophagus and passes through the body. Eventually, it becomes urine, is stored in the bladder, and exits the body through the urinary tract. In the meantime, the kidneys scrub the body of toxins.
Accordingly, Camp Lejeune veterans and their families have been diagnosed with the following forms of cancer:
Here are the symptoms that are associated with the above types of cancer:
- Severe weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blood in the urine
- Loss of appetite
- Back pain
- Blood in the urine
- Increased need to urinate
- Abdominal pain
Even though your body technically does not digest water, it is an essential element in the digestive process. Water helps moistened food when chewed, and it facilitates the digestion of food. As a result, water also comes into contact with all parts of your digestive system.
Symptoms of Digestive Cancer
As a result, contaminated Camp Lejeune water has also led to a widespread diagnosis of cancers that impact the digestive system.
Here are some of the other cancers that Camp Lejeune veterans have contracted:
Here are some symptoms that may result from the above cancers:
- Severe abdominal pain can even be felt in one’s back
- Unexplained weight loss that does not relate to dieting
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in stool color
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal swelling
- Weakness and fatigue
Liver and pancreatic cancer have meager survival rates. Even in the short period between diagnosis and possible death, the patient will experience severe pain and discomfort. The estate has the right to compensation for their loved one’s suffering between the diagnosis and the death. The same goes for any illness caused by contaminated Camp Lejeune water.
Symptoms of Other Kidney and Liver Ailments
Some people have been diagnosed with non-cancerous kidney and liver conditions after exposure to Camp Lejeune water. Some of these patients have died from the condition. In many of these cases, the patients suffered similar symptoms to those who developed cancerous tumors. Some patients require dialysis because their bodies can not scrub toxins independently. Many others entered the stage of complete kidney failure.
Aplastic Anemia Symptoms
Other symptoms related to an injury to the bone marrow called aplastic anemia. Patients who suffer from this condition have bone marrow that does not produce enough healthy blood cells because of the destruction of the stem cells. Eventually, the patient may need a bone marrow transplant. In many patients, aplastic anemia can be a forerunner to leukemia or increase the chances that they can develop the disease eventually.
In general, aplastic anemia is extremely rare. With no other predispositions, only two out of every one million people will develop the condition. However, the rates of this disease in Camp Lejeune veterans and their family members have been high enough that the Veterans Administration has included this illness on the list of presumptive conditions connected with Camp Lejeune water.
Symptoms of aplastic anemia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Pale skin
- Frequent or prolonged infections
- Inability of the blood to clot
Other illnesses related to aplastic anemia have also been diagnosed in Camp Lejeune veterans.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease from Toxic Camp Lejeune Water
Another commonly diagnosed condition in people who spent time at Camp Lejeune is Parkinson’s Disease. Exposure to toxins can cause this degenerative neurological syndrome. Parkinson’s disease generally results from damage to the brain cells caused by the surrounding environment. While this condition can occur on its own, it is very rare.
Camp Lejeune veterans have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at an alarming rate. Compared with service members at other bases, the rate of Parkinson’s disease in Camp Lejeune veterans is significantly higher. In fact, Parkinson’s disease is one of the eight illnesses that are presumed to be connected with Camp Lejeune water by the Veterans Administration.
Although Parkinson’s disease primarily affects movement, several other symptoms are present.
Here are some of what patients with the neurological condition may encounter:
- Tremors in the hands, arms, or legs
- Rigid muscles
- Decreased movement of food through the digestive tract
- Slowness of movement
- Impaired balance and coordination
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms will get worse over time. Although the disease is generally not fatal, it will significantly impact the patient’s quality of life. Medication can help control some of the symptoms, but it can never completely eradicate all the effects of the disease.
Keep Track of Your Medical Issues and Symptoms
From your perspective, you should keep detailed records and journals of your medical condition. You are also entitled to pain and suffering connected with your illness. If you have suffered severe symptoms from your disease, the government has a legal obligation to pay you for it. You may prove pain and suffering from medical records or witness testimony that details your experience.
A New Law May Give You a Legal Right to Financial Compensation
Previously, you could not file a claim against the federal government for the harm that they subjected you to while you and your family were at Camp Lejeune. a long-standing legal interpretation called the Feres Doctrine and North Carolina state law combined to keep injured servicemembers from being able to sue the federal government for the damage done by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
In August 2022, Congress passed the PACT Act. This legislation was a wide-ranging veteran’s health care bill with several provisions to aid those sickened in military service. One part of this bill was the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. This provision created a new cause of action that allows injured veterans and their family members to file a claim against the federal government for the damages they suffered.
Not only can living Camp Lejeune victims file claims for damages, but families of deceased victims can also receive financial compensation for the loss of their loved ones. Retrospective studies have shown a much higher death rate among those who spent time at Camp Lejeune than those stationed at other bases. The Camp Lejeune Justice act allows for financial compensation for illnesses so long as the claimant spent at least 30 days at the base between 1953 and 1987.
The New Law Makes it Easier to Prove Causation.
One crucial part of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act makes it easier for claimants to prove that Camp Lejeune water was the cause of their illness. In any personal injury action, you must prove legal causation. This legal term means that you would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the defendant’s actions. In many pollution and product liability cases, sickened plaintiffs have difficulty showing that the polluter or manufacturer caused their illness.
Here, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act relaxes the causation requirement somewhat.
You can still receive financial compensation so long as you can show your illness:
- Was caused by exposure to the water;
- Was associated with exposure to the water;
- Was linked to exposure to the water; or
- Was made more likely by exposure to the contaminated water
Depending on the type of illness that you have suffered, you may not even need an expert witness to prove the causation. You can use scientific studies demonstrating a connection between your illness and the contaminated water.
The Government Must Still Grant Your Claim, and You Must Still Settle With It
Nonetheless, obtaining financial compensation is not as simple as just filing a claim with the government. You need to follow a complex legal procedure before you can get a settlement check (if you can even get one at all). You will need to negotiate compensation with the federal government if it decides to settle your claim.
If the government denies your claim, or if the compensation it is offering is inadequate, you may need to take your case to Federal Court. Therefore, you need an experienced attorney to handle your Camp Lejeune claim.
In the meantime, you should gather your medical records and other things that can prove your harm. Your lawyer will review your documentation and determine a value for your claim. Then, as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act requires, they will submit the claim to the federal government and await the response.
Time is limited, as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act fixed the length of this new cause of action at two years from the date of signing. After August 2024, you will be unable to file a claim for any injuries suffered at Camp Lejeune. You can speak with an experienced attorney during a free initial consultation.
Lawyers handling these types of claims work on a contingency basis, which means that:
- Case evaluations are free – The lawyer will review your history at Camp Lejeune, your illness records, and more to advise you whether you likely have a Camp Lejeune water claim.
- You pay nothing up front or during your case – You will not have to pay a retainer to hire the attorney, nor will you pay hourly fees while your case is pending. Payment gets deferred until the successful conclusion of your case.
- You pay no fees if you do not recover – If your claim does not result in compensation, you owe no legal fees to the attorney.
- Fees come from your settlement – You never need money from your bank account to pay your lawyer, as the payment comes from the compensation you receive.
You have nothing to lose by learning about your rights today.