Since 2017, veterans who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and developed health problems have been entitled to presumptive healthcare and disability benefits through the VA. However, this is minimal compensation and minimal justice for water contamination issues and resulting health problems that lasted for over 50 years. Luckily, this is no longer your only option for obtaining justice and compensation for your health problems and injuries if you were exposed to this contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
VA DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR LEJEUNE
As noted above, those exposed to Camp Lejeune contaminated water have been entitled to presumptive VA disability benefits since 2017. However, this saga started long before that. Concerns over Camp Lejeune’s water were present from the 1950s through the 1980s, culminating in a 2010 congressional committee reviewing the concerns. Despite nearly 60 years of concerns and investigations, it wasn’t until 2012 that the VA began covering any issues regarding Camp Lejeune water-based illnesses and would be another 5 years, until 2017, before they were classified as presumptive benefits.
Regardless of the history, what is meant by presumptive benefits? Unfortunately, presumptive benefits do not mean if you simply were stationed there you will get payments. It does mean, however, that if you were stationed at, or otherwise serving there in certain capacities, Camp Lejeune and later developed certain health problems or illnesses, the VA will automatically assume those health problems or illnesses were caused by your service. This makes it significantly easier to prove entitlement to VA disability benefits, as service connection is one of the biggest hurdles to benefits.
However, while presumptive benefits are important and make achieving a VA rating for disability purposes much easier, it does not mean presumptive benefits make the VA fool proof. If you were station at Camp Lejeune through the 1980s and have developed health problems such as various forms of cancer, infertility, birth defects, renal (kidney) issues, or a variety of other health conditions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gold, Khourey and Turak as we can help you achieve VA disability benefits and/or achieve a higher VA rating.
JUSTICE FOR LEJEUNE LAWSUITS
Regardless of how the VA handled Camp Lejeune cases, or if the veterans and/or family member injured by Camp Lejeune contaminated water received VA benefits, there was nothing that could be done outside of the VA system. Since Camp Lejeune is a military base, it falls under protections from being sued as part of the federal government. Meaning that unlike a normal person or business, even if a judge or jury agreed Camp Lejeune (or in this case those in charge of it) acted wrongfully and you were in fact injured by such wrongful behavior, it did not matter. There was immunity from prosecution and thus being held accountable. This has all changed with the 2022 Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 being passed. In it, the United States specifically removes immunities from Camp Lejeune to allow at least a certain set of lawsuits to proceed against it.
This has all been based on the facts determined in the 2010 committee that lead to any action by the VA. The committee found that there were additional factors that needed to be considered when looking at the Camp Lejeune water contamination. These included the fact that even during the time (1953-1987) there were noted concerns and that for over 20 years after this period passed parts of the United States Armed Forces worked to cover up these issues, all amounting to unquestioned and irreparable harm to those impacted. With these additional factors in consideration, the federal government, in the above-mentioned Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, created the ability to bring suit against Camp Lejeune for these harms.
These cases are not exactly like other civil lawsuits (although they undoubtably share some similarities). They are specifically created by the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 and have specific requirements to proceed. To qualify, you must have been exposed to Camp Lejeune water for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987. It also requires certain types of health issues to be what arise and that those health issue are shown to be properly connected to the exposure to contaminated Camp Lejeune water. Finally, it requires that actions be brought in a specific amount of time in relation to the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 passage date or certain other benefits denials.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
Do not wait! If you were stationed, lived, or worked at at Camp Lejeune between or around 1953 and 1987, contact Gold, Khourey and Turak today. Don’t miss your opportunity to protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today by calling or texting us at 304-845-9750 or online at GKT.com through our 24-hour Live Chat or complete our no obligation form for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys are ready to evaluate your claim and assist you in protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation you deserve.