Camp Lejeune Water Contamination VA Benefits Claim Lawyer

 

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Veterans of the United States Armed Forces deserve respect and comprehensive benefits for disabilities they develop as a result of their time serving our country. Servicemen and servicewomen stationed at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River (MCAS) between 1953-1987 are at a high risk of developing a variety of cancers and illnesses as a result of exposure to water from base wells contaminated with toxic chemicals such as benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE).  Recent legislation has provided those harmed by contaminated water on Camp Lejeune and MCAS the opportunity to seek VA disability benefits. By filing a VA benefits claim, veterans can get compensation that can cover their healthcare as well as other costs caused by water contamination-related illnesses.

Why Choose Dolman Law Group for Your Camp Lejeune VA Benefits Claim?

Filing a VA disability benefits claim should be a straightforward and efficient process that gets veterans the help they need. Still, many can find themselves struggling with the Veteran's Affairs system. Dolman Law Group is now assisting veterans seeking disability benefits for injuries caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination and can provide the legal assistance necessary to secure the compensation they are entitled to. Veteran's Affairs may have denied your disability benefits claim or you may be having difficulty connecting your illness to exposure to contaminated Camp Lejeune water. Dolman Law Group can offer a variety of resources at our disposal to assist you in gathering new evidence to strengthen an appeal or new claim. Our lawyers also have years of experience providing our clients with award-winning legal advice that can mean the difference between the success and failure of your claim.  Dolman Law Group offers free consultations to those curious about how we can assist you with getting you compensation for Camp Lejeune water contamination-related disabilities through a VA benefits claim. To contact us about your case you can either call our office at 866-932-3641 or fill out our online contact form

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Water is an essential resource that many take for granted. Most turn on a faucet without the thought of potential contamination, let alone the consequences of such crossing their mind. The many servicepeople and families that resided at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River would become victims of military negligence throughout the better part of the 20th century and suffer the effects of water contamination to this day. 

The Sources of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The contamination of the well water systems at Camp Lejeune actually came from not one but several sources. Military bases utilize a variety of toxic chemicals that are considered carcinogenic for everything from maintenance to putting out fires. It is believed that many of these chemicals found their way into the well water due to leaking underground storage tanks, improper disposal, and industrial area spills.  One well was actually contaminated because of a local dry cleaner's harmful chemical disposal practices. An off-base dry cleaner named ABC One-Hour Cleaners improperly disposed of perchloroethylene (PCE) which is considered toxic to humans at even very low concentrations. 

The Carcinogens Responsible for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The water at Camp Lejeune was actually suspected to be contaminated for some time. Tests conducted by several labs in the early 1980s indicated that the water from the base wells did in fact contain some of the highest levels of solvents ever found in tap water systems. It is estimated that the solvent levels in the base's well water were over 280 times the levels of what the EPA currently considers safe.  The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the well water at Camp Lejeune were numerous and almost all significantly increased the risk of developing a variety of types of cancer. The following make up some of the most harmful carcinogens that were found in the Camp Lejeune wells.

Perchloroethylene From Dry Cleaners in Camp Lejeune Water

PCE is a toxic chemical regularly used in dry cleaners all across the country that needs to be properly disposed of otherwise it risks seeping into the water table. This chemical was actually measured at levels 43 times those considered safe for drinking water on Camp Lejeune. Even a small amount of PCE exposure has been found to have very serious negative health effects such as birth defects in cases of exposure among pregnant women and a highly increased risk of liver cancer, kidney cancer, and leukemia.

Trichloroethylene Contamination of Camp Lejeune Wells

Trichloroethylene is used as a solvent for degreasing metal parts and was used extensively on Camp Lejeune. Spilled TCE is considered extremely dangerous since it can seep into groundwater and evaporate to expose people via inhalation as well. TCE exposure has similar negative effects to PCE such as child development disorders, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, kidney cancer, and liver cancer.

Benzene Increased Camp Lejeune Cancer Risk

A wide range of industrial processes utilize benzene as a starting chemical to synthesize other substances, as a solvent, and as a fuel additive. It is one of the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States because of this and poses a threat if not disposed of properly. Benzene exposure mainly affects the bone marrow and causes health issues related to blood, most notably, Leukemia. 

Vinyl Chloride and Debilitating Cancer

Vinyl chloride is a chemical that does not occur naturally and is often encountered as a byproduct of polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) production. When vinyl chloride seeped into the Camp Lejeune water supply it was exposed to residents as a gas when water was used for showering, cooking, and laundry. Common health issues associated with exposure to this carcinogen include liver damage, damage to the reproductive system, and a host of cancers such as liver cancer, brain cancer, and certain blood cancers. 

Cancer and Other Illnesses Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Even exposure to small amounts of the aforementioned chemicals can significantly increase someone's chances of developing debilitating health conditions. Camp Lejeune water contamination has been found to cause the following illnesses
  • Kidney cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer 
  • Esophageal cancer 
  • Lung cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Rectal cancer 
  • Brain cancer
  • Soft tissue cancer

Non-cancerous personal injuries and illnesses:

  • Aplastic anemia 
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Impaired immune system 
  • Neurological effects 
  • Neurobehavioral performance deficiencies
  • Severe hypersensitivity skin disorder
  • Liver cirrhosis 
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Parkinson disease
  • Scleroderma

Birth Defects and Conditions Related to Exposure to Contaminated Water:

  • Low birth weight 
  • Fetal death 
  • Major malformations/disfigurement
  • Miscarriage 
  • Neural tube defects
  • Oral cleft defects 
  • Small for gestational age
  • Choanal atresia 
  • Eye defects
  • Cardiac defects

Requirements to Seek Camp Lejeune VA Disability Benefits

Under normal circumstances, a veteran would need three things to obtain VA disability compensation. 
  • A current disability
  • An illness or injury suffered during their service
  • A clear link between the in-service illness or injury and the current disability
Now, veterans that were exposed to toxic tap water at Camp Lejeune are entitled to presumptive service connection for certain disabilities. This means that under some circumstances, veterans harmed this way are not required to provide proof that certain disabilities were caused by exposure to contaminated water while at Camp Lejeune. 

Presumptive Service Connection Requirements

The VA will presume a veteran's in-service-injury or a link between certain disabilities and exposure to contaminated water during their service which can significantly streamline the process of seeking benefits. However, the following criteria need to be met in order for this to occur. 
  • You need to have served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS for at least 30 days (consecutive or non-consecutive).
  • You must have served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS sometime between August 1, 1952 and December 31, 1987.
  • You are/were a veteran, reservist, or guardsman 
  • You were not dishonorably discharged
  • You must have suffered one or more of the following conditions:
    • Adult leukemia
    • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
    • Bladder cancer
    • Kidney cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
    • Parkinson's disease
Even if you do not satisfy all of the aforementioned criteria for presumptive service connection, you may still be able to seek compensation for your illness if you file a VA disability benefits claim. You will need to provide evidence that you were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and be able to link that exposure to your disability in addition to satisfying all the usual qualifying service criteria required for VA benefits. 

Can Veterans and Their Families Seek Healthcare Benefits?

Health benefits are available to veterans and their family members that have suffered qualifying health conditions due to Camp Lejeune's toxic water. The Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 provides veterans and their families health benefits as long as the following criteria are met. 
  • You lived at Camp Lejeune for 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987
  • (If a family member) you are or were a dependant of a veteran that satisfies the requirements for Camp Lejeune-related VA disability benefits
  • You have one or several of the following health conditions
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Kidney cancer
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Renal toxicity
    • Female infertility
    • Scleroderma
    • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
    • Lung cancer
    • Bladder cancer
    • Leukemia
    • Myelodysplastic syndromes
    • Hepatic steatosis
    • Miscarriage
    • Neurobehavior effects
If you satisfy these aforementioned criteria as a veteran or are the family of someone who does and lived with them at the time then the VA will provide compensation to reimburse the costs of your illnesses that your health insurance does not cover. 

VA Benefits for Veterans Affected by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination 

VA benefits for Camp Lejeune water contamination are essential in order to cover the often staggeringly expensive cost of living with cancer and other water contamination-related illnesses. The VA received $2 billion in 2017 in order to compensate those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination and can provide you with the coverage needed to handle the costs of your illness.  If you are able to successfully process your claim and are cleared to receive compensation, you are typically eligible to receive monthly, tax-free payments and coverage for your illness's medical costs not covered by insurance. There is no standardized amount for these payments and they instead vary depending on the disability and how much that disability affects someone's earning capacity.  While this amount can vary depending on the health condition, most types of cancer will result in a 100% rating when they are active, symptomatic cancers. This rating can persist for years after treatment or diagnosis of the condition. Those with a 100% disability rating can qualify for up to $3,000 a month in benefits. Ensuring that you get a 100% rating can take some work which is why it is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a VA benefits claim lawyer to assist you with your claim. 

Filing a VA  Benefits Claim for Camp Lejeune and MCAS Water Contamination Disability

Those that believe that they are entitled to disability benefits because of illnesses suffered because of Camp Lejeune water contamination should undergo a medical examination. This can be done by your own doctor or by one at a VA medical center to determine whether you suffer from a condition that satisfies presumptive service connection requirements.  If you elect to take this course of action you can file a claim by completing and submitting VA Form 21-526 EZ. You can submit your form at your local VA Regional Office. Upon receiving your claim the VA will ask for the following. 
  • Medical Evidence that proves that you are suffering from one of the aforementioned illnesses that satisfy presumptive service connection requirements.
  • Records that show you served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987 for 30 days. 
If you already have filed a claim with Veteran's Affairs seeking compensation for your illness caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination and it was denied then there are options for filing an appeal. Dolman Law Group can assist you with determining how to best go about appealing your VA disability benefits claim as well as assist in gathering evidence to help prove your case

Why Hire a VA Benefits Lawyer?

A lawyer is not required to file a claim for VA benefits but those that acquire the assistance of a VA benefits claim lawyer are in a much better position to see their claim succeed. The VA sees a large number of claims and the bureaucratic processes that handle these claims can lead to a variety of issues. These issues can result in a claim being denied or the amount of compensation offered to be much lower than one deserves.   With an experienced VA disability benefits lawyer, you have an ally that can provide you with the skill and insight required to navigate the complexities that can crop up when filing these claims. Having someone on your side to assist with gathering the evidence required to prove your condition's severity or your exposure to contaminated water can make this process much easier and increases your chance of receiving the full value of compensation you are owed by the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

How Much Will a VA Lawyer Cost Me?

Doman Law Group does not charge our clients on an hourly basis nor do we require a downpayment for securing our services. Instead, our firm works for a contingency fee which is a percentage of the compensation we manage to secure you through our work. This means that you do not pay us until we are successful in getting you compensation and if we fail then you pay nothing.

Contact Dolman Law Group About Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination VA Benefits Claim

Personal Injury Lawyer
Matthew Dolman, Camp Lejeune Lawyer
If you are a veteran and have developed health problems as a result of exposure to contaminated water while stationed at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River then please consider contacting Dolman Law Group about your VA disability claim. Seeking legal assistance when filing a VA disability benefits claim can provide you with skills and resources essential to ensure your voice is heard.  Dolman Law Group is an award-winning firm recognized not only for success in court and at the negotiating table but also for putting the interests of our clients first. Dealing with the consequences of Camp Lejeune water contamination is an issue we understand as sensitive and difficult. We empathize with the struggles of our clients and work closely with them to provide exemplary legal representation so that they can get the relief they deserve.  The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed.  Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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