Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is located on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. For a period of more than 30 years, the drinking water at the base was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health conditions.
The recent passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act created a legal avenue to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for anyone who was affected by exposure to the base’s contaminated water. At Prince Law Firm, we understand that many of the veterans we meet with are concerned about what this type of lawsuit might mean for their future.
In the following article, we’ll go over the differences between compensation available in a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit, VA disability benefits, and whether you can receive both at the same time.
What Is the Purpose of a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
Starting in Aug. 1953, Camp Lejeune’s drinking water was contaminated with several carcinogenic substances, including:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
This is the water that Marines, their families, and base workers drank, cooked with, and showered in. Anyone who was present at the base for a period of at least 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, was exposed to levels of VOCs sufficient to cause serious health conditions. Individuals exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune experience significantly higher rates of cancer, neurological problems, birth defects, and more.
Historically, veterans have been barred from taking legal action against the federal government for wrongful exposure to toxic substances during their years of service. Now, former Marines, their families, and anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between the above-referenced dates can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.
Can I File a Lawsuit From Illinois?
Although Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is located in North Carolina, you may file a lawsuit from anywhere in the United States. Many veterans call Illinois home, and while there are no Marine bases here, installations for other branches of the military are located in the Prairie State:
- Camp Price
- Naval Station Great Lakes
- Rock Island Arsenal
- Scott Air Force Base
Prince Law Firm is representing anyone in the Illinois area who developed a severe health condition after being stationed or living at Camp Lejeune.
How Long Do I Have To File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act affords only two years to file your lawsuit. You have until Aug. 10, 2024, to meet with an attorney, build your case, and file a lawsuit. At this point, all remaining lawsuits will be consolidated in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina.
It is possible that your case will be settled or sent to a jury verdict prior to the consolidation. The sooner you contact Prince Law Firm, the sooner we can get started on your claim.
What Is the Purpose of VA Disability Benefits?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides disability benefits to men and women who suffered service-connected disabilities. These monthly benefits are paid on a monthly basis, and in recognition of the impact of diseases, injuries, or disabilities suffered or made worse over the course of active military service.
The value of your VA disability payments will depend on your condition(s) and your disability rating.
What Are VA Disability Ratings?
The VA will assign a percentage to your service-related disability that is based on the severity of your condition. The higher the disability rating, the higher the compensation will be.
There are no restrictions on working when receiving VA disability benefits, even if you have a 100% disability rating. Your disability payments will not be reduced for working, either. The only exception to this is if you are awarded disability benefits via Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
VA Disability Benefits for Camp Lejeune Victims
Covered under VA disability are a handful of conditions related to the exposure to contaminated water that occurred at Camp Lejeune. Veterans, guardsmen, and reservists qualify for VA disability benefits if they were present at the base for 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, were not dishonorably discharged, and were diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions:
- Bladder cancer
- Aplastic anemia
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
If you have been denied disability benefits for a condition related to your service at Camp Lejeune, contact Prince Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.
Will I Lose My VA Disability Benefits in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
There is nothing that prevents you from receiving VA disability benefits and compensation from a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit at the same time. Filing a lawsuit will not cause you to lose your VA benefits. Similarly, you will still be able to keep your disability benefits even if you are awarded compensation in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
VA disability benefits are not income-based, so your income (including settlements awarded in legal matters) is not a factor.
An Experienced Law Firm Advocating for Veterans
VA disability benefits are a key component to the financial stability of many veterans and their families. We recognize how difficult it can be to take any action that you are worried might compromise your ability to continue receiving your monthly disability payments.
If you have any questions about filing a water contamination claim or want to know if you’re eligible to do so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our law firm today. We have experience advocating on behalf of veterans and are prepared to take on your case.