To prevail in a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit, you must prove that you were there while the water was contaminated and suffered harm from that exposure. Medical records, scientific studies, military service records, and base housing records are invaluable resources in these cases.
At Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward Injury Attorneys, we help injured clients compile the evidence needed to prove their cases. As part of this process, our team will partner with healthcare professionals to analyze the contents of your medical records. Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to prove your contamination case.
How Can I Prove My Illness is Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
To show that the Camp Lejeune water contamination caused your disability, you will need the following evidence:
- Proof that you served at Camp Lejeune for at least a month between August 1953 and December 1987
- Proof of a diagnosed medical condition
- Proof of a connection between exposure to contaminated water and your condition
A personal injury lawyer who handles mass tort cases can help you gather the evidence needed to prove you suffered harm from spending time at the now-infamous base.
Medical Conditions Associated With the Toxic Exposure at Camp Lejeune
From 1957 to 1987, Marines and their families living on the base were exposed to hazardous chemicals in the water supply. The main contaminants found in Camp Lejeune’s water include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene.
As a result of prolonged exposure to these toxins, many of those affected have developed chronic health issues such as kidney disease, cancer, and birth defects in their children.
Types of Cancer
Cancers that have been associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination include but are not limited to the following:
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
Many other health issues have been linked to long-term exposure to contaminated drinking water, including the following:
- Aplastic anemia
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Hepatic steatosis
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Congenital disabilities, including cardiac defects
Unfortunately, these cases can be difficult to prove so many years after exposure. Still, researchers believe that health impacts could continue for decades due to lingering toxins in the body.
If your condition is one of the 15 recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), your case may be easier to prove.
The Use of Existing Studies Can Support Your Claim
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) acknowledges studies conducted on humans or animals and epidemiological studies to show how the base water supply affected service members and their families.
This grants those individuals legal standing to make claims based on existing studies. Access to these studies makes it easier to obtain compensation for any harm that may have been caused due to exposure to contaminated water during their time at the base.
What Evidence Do I Need for a Camp Lejeune Injury Claim?
Filing a claim under the CLJA requires careful documentation. Among the required evidence is paperwork proving an individual served, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
In some cases involving civilians, travel records can establish when the person visited the base and whether prolonged contact with potential carcinogens occurred.
Proof of Harm
Evidence must also include copies of all medical records, reports, and diagnoses related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
An attorney could help you collect these items if you do not already have them. Reports and documents should reflect any contact with possible contamination sources to prove the health impacts resulting from any exposure during your time at Camp Lejeune.
Establishing a service connection can be a crucial first step toward securing benefits under the CLJA. Without proper documentation, proving eligibility under the act will be impossible, making accurate record retrieval a crucial part of the claims process.
Proof of Causation
To prove causation in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the defendants failed to act in a way that an ordinary, reasonably prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances.
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must also establish that it was, in fact, the defendant’s actions (or omissions) that caused the plaintiff harm.
In a Camp Lejeune water contamination injury case, a plaintiff is typically alleging that the federal government or other defendants failed to act as an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances.
Testimony of treating physicians and proof of time spent on the base will often suffice since so much information already exists regarding the chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water.
Can I Still Get VA Healthcare and Disability Benefits if I Sue?
Fortunately, you can’t lose your VA benefits for filing a lawsuit over the water at Camp Lejeune. Many veterans affected by Camp Lejeune also access health care and disability benefits from the VA. Healthcare services such as medical advice, hospital care, outpatient treatment, prescription drugs, and lab tests are available to many Camp Lejeune victims.
To obtain the benefits, veterans must meet certain criteria:
If a veteran has been diagnosed with any of the 15 covered health conditions related to Camp Lejeune, they will receive treatment through the VA. In addition, they won’t be subject to copayments for treatments related to the condition.
VA disability compensation is also available for veterans with covered conditions who meet the following eligibility requirements:
- They must have served at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for at least a month between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- They must also have received an honorable discharge when separating from the military.
How to Access Camp Lejeune Benefits
The VA acknowledges that many veterans lack specific evidence linking their existing conditions to their years of service.
Therefore, being present at Camp Lejeune during those dates can be enough evidence to receive benefits based on a recognized “presumptive illness.” Contact your local VA medical center to learn more about applying for VA benefits for one of the covered conditions.
That said, hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and increase your chances of receiving more financial compensation for your illness.
Get Started on Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case
If you have been diagnosed with a condition linked to Camp Lejeune’s tainted water, you may be eligible for compensation from the U.S. government. However, proving that the toxic water caused your current condition can be difficult. Without an attorney, handling your case can feel like an uphill battle.
Our mass tort lawyers at Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward can help you build your water contamination case. Time is of the essence since you only have until August 2024 to file your toxic water claim, and building a solid case takes time. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation.