Hakim Injury Law: Camp Lejeune Water

Compensation Denials for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims by VA!

May 15, 2024

According to a recent report, between 2017 and 2021, as many as 21,000 Veterans were wrongfully denied compensation for illnesses related to Camp Lejeune water contamination.

Instead of asking for more evidence in disputed claims, officials summarily denied them. “Veterans were not informed of the specific evidence needed to support the claim before the decision … Some of the veterans’ claims might have been granted if veterans had been notified of evidence needed to decide their claims,” the report stated. Most of these wrongfully-denied veterans would have received a year or more of back pay.

The claims processing error rate was much lower in Kentucky, where officials received special training in handling Camp Lejeune water contamination claims.

Environmental Poisoning at Camp Lejeune

In 1952, eleven years after Camp Lejeune opened, a new water treatment facility at Tarawa Terrace went online. This facility wasn’t big enough to keep up with the rapidly-increasing water usage at one of the world’s largest Marine Corps bases. It also wasn’t efficient enough to cleanse dangerous chemicals out of the drinking water. 

The following year, a similar facility opened nearby Hadnot Point, with similar issues. 1953 is also the year that the injury eligibility period begins for Camp Lejeune residents.

In the early 1980s, multiple tests showed that Camp Lejeune’s drinking water was dangerously contaminated. However, the Marine Corps didn’t close the contaminated water treatment facilities until 1987. The Marines waited more than a decade, until 1999, to inform Camp Lejeune veterans and their families about the poisoned water they drank. Veterans waited more than another decade, until 2012, for benefits to become available.

The bottom line is that as many as one million people may have drank poison water at Camp Lejeune. Because the DoD was so slow to respond to the problem and take corrective action, as was the case with Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, the vast majority of these victims had no idea about the risks they were taking.

Now that the truth has come out, these victims, and their families, have multiple compensation options. More on that below.

Presumptive Conditions

So far, the government has acknowledged a presumptive connection between residence at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and the following serious illnesses:

  • Kidney cancer,
  • Liver cancer,
  • Multiple myeloma,
  • Adult leukemia,
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes,
  • Bladder cancer,
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and
  • Parkinson’s disease.

However, these are only the presumptive illnesses. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for other illnesses not on this list. The connection between the illness and Camp Lejeune tainted water is simply harder to establish.

Making this connection requires an attorney to have the best possible evidence and present this evidence in the best possible way. A lapse in either area could mean lower compensation, or even no compensation at all.

Depending on the approach, this compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. In addition to compensation for economic and noneconomic losses, families affected by wrongful death due to Camp Lejeune water contamination may also seek justice and financial support.

Your Claim for Damages

Veterans and their families or survivors are usually entitled to VA disability benefits. These benefits usually include a monthly cash stipend and free medical care at any VA medical facility. Although the burden of proof is low (as likely as not), the initial denial rate is high, as indicated in the above story. So, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney must normally file an appeal and negotiate a settlement with stingy government lawyers.

These benefits aren’t available to private military contractors, social guests, and other non-DoD employees who drank contaminated water at this sprawling military installation. Additionally, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act doesn’t provide benefits to survivors of deceased water contamination victims. Fortunately, these victims may file damage claims in civil court. 

Federal courts usually consolidate large environmental poisoning cases into a single Multi-District Litigation court, at least for pretiral purposes. A single judge rules on pretrial motions, resolves discovery disputes, and oversees settlement negotiations. A few trials, known as bellwether trials, are held in the MDL court as well. These trials enable both sides to test the strength of their claims and defenses. If subsequent cases don’t settle, which is unlikely, any future trials return to their home jurisdictions for resolution.

Our Lawyers Can Help Navigate Your Camp Lejeune Claim!

Almost all civil claims settle out of court. These resolutions don’t mean a Los Angeles personal injury attorney is raising the white flag. In fact, settlements are usually more beneficial to victims than trials. Settlements resolve cases sooner, so victims obtain compensation sooner. Additionally, out-of-court settlements give victims more control over the outcome. Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. 

For a free consultation with an experienced California personal injury attorney, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim & Sharona Hakim, Attorneys. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Credit: Photo on Midjourny

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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