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Veterans Might Not Get Quick Payouts for Camp Lejeune Lawsuits: What’s the Road Ahead?

Think about water contamination issues in the United States, and Camp Lejeune’s toxic water will come to mind. To date, the total number of water contamination administrative claims filed with the Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps) has exceeded 70,000.

Everyone is now aware of the issue. Between 1953 and 1987, the polluted water in this region of North Carolina resulted in birth defects, cancer, and various other medical ailments. On investigation, it was found that the water was contaminated by industrial solvents such as PCE (perchloroethylene) and TCE (trichloroethylene) from a leaking underground fuel storage tank at the base.

However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows civilians, military veterans, and members of their families to file complaints for their suffering due to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. It promises to enable victims to receive compensation for their medical costs, pain, and other damages.

Unfortunately, one can’t expect a settlement just by filing a lawsuit. There is also no guarantee of a quick payout. There have been delays that are making the veterans and residents of Camp Lejeune rather restless. This article will explore why a quick payout seems challenging and what the future holds.

Quick Payouts for Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Seem Impossible

In August 2022, the Marine Corps Times reported on eye-catching mailers and TV ads that discussed financial compensation for victims suffering from toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune before 1988. This generated excitement and hope among a section of the population, as they got curious about the Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout per person.

However, advocates have cautioned these individuals that they might not see substantial payouts. Those fortunate enough to receive compensation may have to wait several months or even years to receive their funds.

Shane Liermann, the Deputy National Legislative Director at the Disabled American Veterans, emphasized the importance of veterans staying informed before making decisions. Otherwise, they risk spending more money than they receive, as no veteran wants reduced benefits.

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The news report highlighted Congress’ passing legislation to ease the rules for veterans as well as their respective family members who developed fatal cancers and other ailments. This legislation enabled them to access the necessary healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Advocates also noted that this process doesn’t address several issues, including compensating families who lost loved ones to diseases related to toxic water exposure. Greg Rinckey, the founder of a law firm, explained that there are no automatic payouts, and even successful lawsuits can take years or months to conclude. According to him, initial payouts may only materialize by next year, and mostly for cases that are relatively easy to prove.

As for settlement amounts, TorHoerman Law suggests they could range from $10,000 to over $1,000,000, depending on the strength of each case. However, this is only an estimate based on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) budget for Camp Lejeune claims. The exact amount will vary from one person to another based on the specifics of their case.

Are Settlements Expected Soon?

In September 2023, the Lawsuit Information Center reported that a Navy lawyer had drafted an email to Camp Lejeune attorneys regarding the progress of the cases. The email highlighted the challenges the Navy faces in quickly reviewing compensation claims from veterans affected by the region’s polluted waters.

The email also pointed out that the Navy lacks the necessary personnel and financial resources to process these cases promptly. Nevertheless, the tort claims unit is working overtime to manage the claims, which may lead to some favorable outcomes. 

Unfortunately, the Navy has not yet established an online portal to expedite the claims process, and Congress has not allocated the additional funds required for the compensation program.

However, these challenges should not diminish veterans’ hopes. The silver lining is that the Navy is now being held accountable for bringing about positive changes. Legislators from both sides of the political spectrum are demanding an explanation for the lack of progress on the settlements.

Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.), along with the participation of Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), are pushing for the speedy resolution of these cases. As of today, the best estimate for the settlement of Camp Lejeune lawsuits is slated for the summer of 2024.

Conclusion

When it comes to the settlement of the Camp Lejeune lawsuit cases, veterans have experienced significant delays. Since many of them are older adults, they have become increasingly pessimistic. They have developed severe ailments due to their exposure to toxic water and fear they may not receive compensation in their lifetime.

Despite these prevalent delays, one should not lose hope but take action to seek coverage for their damages. To do so, it is essential to contact an expert lawyer who can assist veterans in filing legal complaints and bringing their cases to court.

Apart from raising awareness, this will put pressure on the authorities to investigate the matter and expedite the settlement process.

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