Decades of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have led to tragic medical issues, and even death, for countless Marines, veterans, and their families stationed at the North Carolina training base between 1953 and 1987. The United States government has recognized these water contamination effects, and though steps have been taken to alleviate the hardships these circumstances have brought to veterans, attempted amends have been inadequate in compensating for the water contamination.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 hopes to be a step toward proper compensation and relief, as this new bill would allow veterans and those affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination to file injury, cancer, and other damage claims. With a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit, victims can recover damages from exposure to Camp Lejeune toxic water over the noted years.
What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (H.R. 2192) is a law that allows veterans and their family members, civilian workers, contractors and any other person who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for at least thirty days between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987 to recover damages caused by exposure to contaminated water. If signed into law, the act will finally provide compensation to victims for their injuries after decades of being denied such justice. Camp Lejeune veterans and other victims would be able to file lawsuits for damages, including cancer, mesothelioma, disability, injury, and other health problems caused by the toxic water. Until the legislation passes, however, no claims can be filed.
What Does The 2022 Act Mean for Veterans?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows individuals serving in military status at the specified period of potential toxic water exposure to file a lawsuit. This is significant because, although the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently provides benefits (healthcare and compensation for out-of-pocket medical expenses) to eligible service members exposed to water contamination during the relevant period, it doesn’t allow those affected parties to receive full and fair compensation for the injury and consequences incurred by the exposure. In part, this was due to the Feres Doctrine (Feres v. the United States, 340 U.S. 135), which prohibits individuals from filing a lawsuit based on injuries or accidents during their service. Current legislation absolves the military from liability, preventing veterans from getting the benefits they deserve.
Moreover, existing laws do not cover non-military victims, but the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows anyone exposed to the water contamination to file injury claims. The new legislation extends the statute of limitation in North Carolina, which legally forbade the filing of claims for injuries that happened more than ten years in the past. Because many Camp Lejeune victims were unaware of the long-term effects or cause of their medical issues for decades, this statute stopped them from filing in time to satisfy the state law. Fortunately, the 2022 Camp Lejeune Justice Act changes that.
How Did the Camp Lejeune Legislation Come About?
In the past, several attempts have been made to rectify the accidents at Camp Lejeune to compensate the veterans and victims with health benefits and other financial support for the damages they’ve suffered from the water contamination. From this, the Janey Ensminger Act came about, which enabled non-military family members to apply for VA benefits for health issues related to Camp Lejeune contamination, and the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, which grants some benefits to the victims who meet specific standards. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act takes these efforts to support victims and veterans even further.
What Is the Current Status of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
Procedural errors and legislation amendments have slowed the progress of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. In the latest sessions, the U.S. Senate unfortunately didn’t reach the sixty votes needed to pass it, despite the initial version (before it was slightly corrected for technical reasons in the House) of the bill passing eighty-four to fourteen.
Why Hasn’t the Senate Passed the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Justice Act Yet?
The senators who stopped the bill from moving forward cited some concerns over mandatory spending as the benefits authorized in the bill are estimated to cost the government $282.7 billion over the next ten years.
The Next Steps for the 2022 Camp Lejeune Justice Act to Become a Law
The bipartisan support for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act remains strong despite the setback in the legislation. The Senate will continue to discuss the act, then reschedule the vote to end the discussion. If the next cloture is successful, then the Senate will likely pass the bill to be signed into law by the president.
To support the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, contact your state senators. If you’re a victim of the Camp Lejeune contamination and would like to get started on filing a claim, or want to know more about the benefits you could receive, contact the qualified attorneys at Strom Law for help.
Once passed, the Camp Lejeune Act will provide long-awaited relief and justice to the veterans and victims of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
If you or a loved one were affected by the water contamination, you may be eligible for benefits and compensation, including things like lost wages, cancer and other illnesses, pain and suffering, and medical bills incurred. You should contact an attorney for a free consultation to see if you’re eligible for these benefits and compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
In case you’re wondering how these Camp Lejeune lawsuits will proceed, it’s difficult to say at this point. While the act establishes a process for filing claims and seeking compensation for the water contamination, it will likely be some time before we see an established process and determine the success rate for these Camp Lejeune claims. Nonetheless, if you plan to file a lawsuit once the bill is passed into law, there are a few things you can do to prepare in advance.
First, gather as much documentation as possible regarding your exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. This can include medical records, employment records, and any other documentation that may help to establish your eligibility for Camp Lejeune water contamination benefits. It’s also important to procure things like medical bills, insurance records, doctor’s notes, including documents demonstrating lost wages.
The only thing you can’t prove with a document is pain and suffering, which is left to the discretion of the judge. If you’ll be filing on the behalf of a loved one who passed away, be sure to gather any death certificates or other documentation that may be required.
Next, reach out to a qualified attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected. While you may be able to file a water contamination claim on your own, an attorney can provide valuable guidance and ensure that your claim is handled correctly–many attorneys who handle water contamination cases or VA benefits claims may be able to handle your case well.
Finally, stay up to date on the latest news regarding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. By doing so, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re taking timely steps to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve for the injuries sustained from the Camp Lejeune water contamination. The best way to stay up to date is to follow this blog, as we’ll be providing updates on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as they become available.
You can also keep an eye on major news outlets, as they are likely to cover the Camp Lejeune Act as it develops. In addition, if you’re part of a veteran’s organization, those members may also be a source of information and support.
Supporting the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
To support the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, contact your state senators. You can also play your role by raising awareness about the Camp Lejeune Act and urging your friends and family to do the same. The more people who are aware of this legislation and its potential implications, the better, so make sure to share this blog post about the Camp Lejeune Act on your social media.
If you’re a victim of the Camp Lejeune water contamination and would like to get started on filing a claim, or want to know more about the benefits you could receive, contact the qualified attorneys at Strom Law for help.