The polluted water at Camp Lejeune caused chronic ailments and suffering among veterans and their families who lived and worked in this region. People have suffered from liver cancer, birth defects, prostate cancer, and many more.
Last year, it was fatal for Eddie Peterson, who lost consciousness when his breathing stopped. Medical diagnoses proved that he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for decades and that his body was gradually failing him.
It is surprising to know that Peterson used to reside in Camp Lejeune along with several other civilian staff and their respective family members between 1953 and 1987. It means he and others have been using the polluted waters in many ways. The Camp Lejeune waters have been polluted with trichloroethylene and various other contaminants, which have led to fatal ailments including Parkinson’s disease.
Even though the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was enforced in August 2022, there were delays in clearing the settlement payouts to the victims. In September 2023, the Elective Option (EO) was announced by the U.S. Navy and the Department of Justice to compensate the victims who suffered hugely from the polluted waters during their years of service at the Marines Base.
In this article, we will delve into the EO and also discuss what victims must do if their ailment isn’t covered by this option.
The Criteria for the Elective Option
Simply put, the EO has been designed to streamline the process, add speed, and sanction the payouts. But not everyone will qualify for this. It is eligible for only nine particular ailments connected with toxic waters at Camp Lejeune and is categorized into two tiers.
That means the first-tier conditions are proven to be an outcome of the polluted waters. On the other hand, the second tier is most likely an outcome. The Tier 1 conditions will qualify for increased payments compared to Tier 2.
The Tier 1 ailments include:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
The Tier 2 ailments include:
- Systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Kidney disease
Additionally, the Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts depend on the exposure duration of the claimants. The ones who have been exposed to the polluted waters for a maximum time can receive nearly $450,000, with an extra $100,000 for any deceased member of their family. The victims must be diagnosed with the listed ailment before August 10, 2022.
The claimants for EO need to report that they have an ailment that falls under the specified list and not worry about proving its connection to Camp Lejeune. However, the claimants who aren’t eligible for this option need to prove that their ailment is caused by the toxic waters.
Claims for Other Camp Lejeune Ailments
There are victims whose ailments due to the toxic water exposure don’t make them eligible for the EO. The best recourse here is the initial claims process. If their claims go unaddressed or denied within six months, they have the option to sue in federal court.
Female infertility and miscarriage are covered by the CLJA but are ineligible. This is true despite the ATSDR having ample evidence connected with “cardiac birth defects” resulting from the toxic water and therefore raises concern.
Several women who were working and living at Camp Lejeune gave birth to stillborn infants or those who had died right after birth. There is a part of the Jacksonville City Cemetery close to the Marine Base that has been kept for such babies, and the graves date between the 1950s and 1980s.
According to Dr. Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist, the levels of such deaths reached their peak during the first half of the 1980s. Hence, when it came to securing compensation, medical records were required to establish the connection between cardiac birth defect incidents and the toxic waters of Camp Lejeune. A few experts assert that infertility and miscarriages are very research-intensive to get speeded up under the EO.
The other ailments that the CLJA covers but don’t qualify under the EO are esophageal cancer, breast cancer, hepatic steatosis, lung cancer, and neurobehavioral effects like depression and dementia.
Hence, TorHoerman Law states that if you or anyone you know has been affected by the polluted waters at Camp Lejeune, it is necessary to file a legal complaint. Contacting a lawyer is necessary to file the lawsuit correctly, which includes submitting the necessary medical records and other vital evidence. A lawyer is the best person to guide the victim on whether to file a lawsuit or to select the EO.
A successful verdict in favor of the victim compensates for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other pain and suffering.
By now, everyone is aware that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune is the reason for several deaths and ailments among veterans. While the CLJA promised to compensate the victims, the delays caused disappointment among the residents and civilians. The Elective Option seemed to be another solution, but it doesn’t cover every ailment.
Victims must study the EO and decide whether they should apply for it or file a lawsuit to get compensated for their damages.