The contaminated water supply at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina left millions exposed to toxic water over a period of decades. The toxic chemicals found in the base’s drinking water can have devastating effects on your health. If you or a family member has been exposed to the toxins and have one of the medical conditions or symptoms listed below, you might be able to file a lawsuit under a new law recently passed by Congress. The personal injury attorneys at HawkLaw want to help you recover compensation for your health conditions caused by Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water.
How Can the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Benefit You?
Congress enacted the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in August 2022 as part of a larger bill providing benefits to U.S. military service members, known as the Honoring Our PACT Act. The law rectifies years of injustices, in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied disability benefits to people who suffered from illnesses caused by the Camp Lejeune water contamination. It also follows multiple Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
Under the new law, anyone may recover damages for health effects caused by exposure to toxic chemicals if they meet the following criteria:
The law applies not only to service members and their families, but also to civilian employees, contractors, and others who were present at the base during the 34-year time period. It provides a right to a jury trial that is not available in other claims against the federal government.
Qualifying individuals can sue the government in order to recover damages. They must prove that they meet all of the eligibility criteria. They do not have to prove, however, that the government was negligent, or that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune directly caused their illness. Even if your health condition does not appear on the VA’s list of illnesses that are “at least as likely as not” to be related to toxic water exposure, you may still be able to file a lawsuit under the new law. Some dental issues, for example, might not specifically appear on the VA’s list, but they can still qualify as a health condition related to Camp Lejeune.
Are There Long-Term Effects of Camp Lejeune Contamination?
The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is in the process of conducting a five-year research study about the development of birth defects and cancer due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Dental issues are among the birth defects included in the study. The study is focusing on two groups:
- Women whose exposure to contaminated drinking water occurred while they were pregnant and whose children may have developed congenital disabilities or cancer as a result.
- Children whose toxic water exposure occurred before they reached the age of one, which may have put them at a higher risk of childhood cancers.
What Are the Diseases Associated With the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
The VA has created a list of health problems that people who came into contact with the contaminated water might be experiencing. All of these medical conditions are associated with the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the base’s water supply and are eligible for compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
This type of cancer affects the cells in the bone marrow and lymphatic system that produce blood cells. Instead of producing healthy white blood cells to help fight infection, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells in large numbers. Leukemia can occur in many different forms. Some are more common in children, while others primarily occur in adults.
This condition involves the body’s inability to produce a sufficient amount of new blood cells. It can cause fatigue and a higher risk of infections. It can also impede the blood’s ability to clot.
This is a fairly rare form of cancer that begins in the cells lining the bladder. Common signs of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, excess need to urinate or difficulty urinating, pain during urination, and frequent bladder infections.
The kidneys are among the most important organs in the body since they filter toxins out of the bloodstream. Poor kidney function can have catastrophic health effects. Kidney cancer can cause severe pain, high blood pressure, urinary problems, and other health issues.
The liver also plays a crucial role in filtering toxins out of the bloodstream. Cancer that begins in the liver can cause health effects like abdominal pain and swelling, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and jaundice.
This type of cancer forms in white blood cells known as plasma cells, which normally produce antibodies to fight infections. Instead, the cancerous cells build up in the bone marrow and produce abnormal proteins that leave the body with fewer healthy antibodies. Symptoms include a greater risk of infections, fatigue, pain in the chest or spine, weakness in the legs, and nausea.
White blood cells known as lymphocytes are the source of this cancer. Abnormal cells form in the lymphatic system. Instead of fighting infections like healthy lymphocytes would do, they spread through the body and form tumors. Common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, abdominal swelling or pain, chest pain, and sudden weight loss.
This illness involves the loss of nerve cells in the brain, known as neurons, that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Patients also lose nerve endings that produce another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.
The loss of these cells and neurotransmitters results in movement problems. Many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are well-known, including shaking and problems with coordination or balance. The disease usually progresses gradually, with symptoms worsening over time until an individual has difficulty walking and communicating.
How Can I Tell If I Have Symptoms from the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
It might be difficult to point to Camp Lejeune as the sole or primary cause of an illness since so many of them develop years or even decades after a person experienced toxic water exposure. This is the case for many dental issues. Camp Lejeune addressed the contaminated water problem more than thirty years ago, but health problems caused by the toxic water endure to this day. Many people who were exposed are only beginning to see the resulting health effects.
VOCs found in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water can cause a range of different types of symptoms:
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a known carcinogen used as an industrial degreaser and for various other purposes. Exposure can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, liver damage, or death.
Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE), is a solvent used in dry cleaning and various industrial processes. The government has classified it as a likely human carcinogen. It can harm the nervous system, impacting memory, vision, and information processing. It can also increase the risks of liver and kidney damage.
How the Toxic Water Might Have Weakened Your Bones
Multiple myeloma is one of the medical conditions identified by the VA as being connected to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water contamination. Plasma cells affected by this disease attack your body’s bone marrow. People who are suffering from multiple myeloma often complain about weakness in their back, hips, and skull
Dental Health Issues Possible From VOCs Found at Camp Lejeune
Your dental health issues might be due to the toxins at Camp Lejeune. Many veterans, family members, civilian workers, and others who drank the contaminated water have complained of tooth loss, tooth decay, and fracturing of teeth. The toxic chemicals may have affected some people’s tooth enamel, causing it to erode and expose the sensitive interior of the tooth. This is a dangerous and painful situation that leaves a person at serious risk of infection. It requires surgery to correct.
Several studies have established links between PCE and/or TCE and dental health with the following health effects:
Oral Cleft Defects
Cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital disabilities caused by the improper formation of the lip or mouth. They can result in difficulties with feeding, ear infections, hearing impairment, and dental problems. An uncorrected cleft lip or palate can cause speech impediments as a child ages.
- Cleft lip: The upper lip forms during the second month of pregnancy. Tissues grow from the sides of the head and meet in the middle to form the face. A cleft lip occurs when the tissues forming the lip do not complete this process, resulting in a gap in the upper lip.
- Cleft palate: The palate, or roof of the mouth, begins to form during the sixth week of pregnancy. A cleft palate is the result of this the two sides not joining completely. The front or back of the palate could remain open, or both sides could have openings.
Certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy can severely damage patients’ teeth, either directly or indirectly. This includes treatments for lung cancer, which has been linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Chemotherapy that affects blood cells can cause problems with the gums and other parts of the mouth, which in turn affect the teeth. Radiation therapy can cause dry mouth, which often leads to cavities and tooth decay.
Will I Be Able to File a Lawsuit Even Though I Am Receiving Benefits from the VA?
You may file a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act even if you are already receiving VA disability compensation for the same health issues. The legal claim is completely separate from the disability claim.
Before now, the Federal Tort Claims Act barred lawsuits based on Camp Lejeune water contamination. The new law creates an entirely new cause of action to recover damages for contaminated water exposure. It allocates about $6.7 billion to compensate U.S. Marine Corps veterans and others. The VA’s denial of many claims for disability benefits by people who performed military service at the base is a major reason for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. If you have been lucky enough to receive VA benefits, the new law will not stop you from also asserting your rights through a lawsuit.
Reasons You Will Want an Attorney for the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The attorneys at HawkLaw want what is in your best interest. You or your family member gave to this nation through military service in the U.S. Marine Corps, but the VA and others did not hold up their end of the bargain by looking after you. You or your loved one deserves compensation for any injuries.
Asserting your rights can be a complicated process. You must present evidence that shows your eligibility to file a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. If you are a veteran, this might involve records showing when and where you performed your military service. If you are a family member, civilian employee, or contractor, you must produce other records to prove that you were present at Camp Lejeune during the required time period.
You must also establish that you or a loved one suffer from one or more medical conditions on the list of those connected to the toxic chemicals found at Camp Lejeune. This often requires extensive medical records, along with testimony from health care professionals who have treated you.
You have enough to worry about as you deal with your own health issues or care for a family member. HawkLaw’s personal injury attorneys are experienced in these types of legal processes. They will ensure that your rights are protected and that your paperwork meets its deadlines. Please note that you have two years to file a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, so time is of the essence.
Are Your Teeth Decaying Due to the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune?
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