The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has had far-reaching consequences, impacting the lives of thousands of service members and their families. If you believe you or your loved ones have been affected by this environmental hazard, it is essential to understand the process of making a claim for compensation or medical benefits. This comprehensive guide aims to walk you through the steps involved in pursuing a claim for water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
- Understand the History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination:
Before initiating a claim, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the history of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the base’s drinking water was contaminated with harmful chemicals, leading to severe health issues for those exposed. The toxic substances included volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and perchloroethylene (PCE) from leaking underground storage tanks and industrial waste disposal practices.
- Verify Eligibility for Camp Lejeune Claims:
The first step in making a claim is to ensure your eligibility. According to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, individuals eligible for claims must have been present at Camp Lejeune during the contaminated period and suffered from one of the covered medical conditions.
- Identify Covered Medical Conditions:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains a list of covered medical conditions related to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. This list includes various types of cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, and other serious health issues associated with the toxic exposure. Review the list to determine if your condition is eligible for compensation or medical benefits.
- Gather Relevant Documentation:
To support your claim, collect all relevant documentation. This may include military service records, medical records, orders of assignment to Camp Lejeune, and any other evidence that establishes your presence at the base during the contaminated period. Documentation of medical diagnoses and treatments related to the covered medical conditions is also crucial.
- Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):
The VA is the primary agency responsible for processing Camp Lejeune claims. Reach out to the nearest VA office or visit their website to initiate the claim process. VA representatives will provide guidance on the required steps and assist you throughout the claims process.
- Complete the Claim Forms:
The VA will provide you with the necessary claim forms. Fill out these forms accurately and thoroughly, providing all the requested information. Be sure to include details about your service at Camp Lejeune, the duration of your stay, and any medical conditions you believe are connected to the water contamination.
- Seek Medical Evaluation:
If you are experiencing health issues related to the water contamination, schedule a medical evaluation with a VA healthcare provider. The medical evaluation is essential to assess your condition and determine if it meets the criteria for compensation or medical benefits under the Camp Lejeune claims process.
- Submit Your Claim:
After completing the claim forms and obtaining any necessary medical evaluations, submit your claim to the VA. Keep copies of all documents for your records, including proof of submission.
- Exercise Patience:
The claims process can be lengthy and involve several stages of review and evaluation. Be patient and prepared to wait for updates from the VA. In some cases, additional information may be requested, which can further extend the processing time.
- Seek Legal Assistance:
If you encounter challenges or denials during the claims process, consider seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney in handling Camp Lejeune claims. While legal representation is not required, it can be beneficial in navigating the complexities of the process and advocating for your rights.
- Stay Informed:
Stay informed about updates and changes in legislation or benefits related to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Check the VA website regularly and stay connected with advocacy groups that support those affected by the issue. Being informed will help you understand your rights and stay up-to-date on any developments that may impact your claim.
Making a claim for water contamination at Camp Lejeune is a significant step toward seeking justice and recognition for the health issues faced by service members and their families. The process may be challenging, but by understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering relevant documentation, and seeking support from the VA and advocacy groups, you can navigate the process with greater confidence. Be patient, stay informed, and consider legal assistance if needed. Ultimately, pursuing a claim can provide the support and compensation necessary to address the long-term consequences of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. Please contact me immediately for a free and confidential consultation regarding your claim and I will be happy to speak with your directly regarding any questions. Time is of the essence.
This blog post is for informational purposes and is not to be construed as legal advice as this blog post by itself does not create an attorney-client relationship or constitute the provision or receipt of legal advice.