For more than three decades, service members and their families were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. The dangerous chemicals seeped into the ground from activities on base and from a nearby dry-cleaning facility. Thousands of people have since developed serious health conditions, including cancers.
In the early 1980s, water testing at the base raised concerns. Those who sounded the alarm say that officials waited too long to act on their reports. It wasn’t until 1984 that officials closed wells on the base due to contamination.
(Source: St. Lawrence County Government, Camp Lejeune Water Contamination History)
Studies and health surveys that followed verified the link between toxic water exposure and serious medical problems. In 1997, the Veterans Affairs Department published a presumptive list of diseases associated with exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. When accompanied by 30 or more days in service at Camp Lejeune during the applicable period, the disease itself creates a presumption that the disease occurred in service. For service members who are suffering from serious health problems, the recognition is welcome relief and removal of a significant hurdle in getting disability benefits.
(Source: Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune; Department of Veterans Affairs Rule Published Jan. 13, 2017)
What Is the List of Presumptive Conditions for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
The eight presumptive conditions for Camp Lejeune water contamination are:
- Adult Leukemia
- Aplastic Anemia/Other Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
What if I have a Camp Lejeune presumptive condition?
If you have a Camp Lejeune presumptive condition, you may qualify for disability benefits. Not only may you qualify, but you don’t have to prove that your disease is the result of your military service. Showing that you have one of the presumptive conditions, and that you meet the time requirement for Camp Lejeune service is enough to show that you have a disease that is from your military service.
What if I don’t have a Camp Lejeune presumptive condition?
If you don’t have a Camp Lejeune presumptive condition, you may still be entitled to compensation, but further prove of the medical causation of the condition may be required. You may still access health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, there’s no presumption of a service connection for disability benefits.
What is the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012?
The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 authorizes health care for people who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for 30 or more days in which the water was contaminated.
Note: The medical conditions that qualify for cost-free healthcare under the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 are more expansive than the list for disability benefits. 15 different medical conditions are included in total under the Act. Dental care is not included.
Are family members included in the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012?
While veterans may receive free care under the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, family members who lived on-base with their military relatives may receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. They must have one of the 15 healthcare conditions covered by the program. Other health insurance is considered primary to the program.
(Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Camp Lejeune: Past Water Contamination)
Are there dates in which the Camp Lejeune diseases must manifest to be presumptive?
No. The rule creating presumptive conditions for Camp Lejeune water exposure diseases does not include dates by which the diseases must manifest. Even if your disease developed years after your service, you may still qualify for benefits.
Is a presumptive condition the same as qualifying for compensation by filing a legal claim?
No. The proposed Camp Lejeune Justice Act doesn’t base compensation on the list of presumptive conditions. The proposed law bases compensation on showing a causal relationship or association between the exposure and the harm. (Senate Bill 3176, Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021; House Bill 2192).
Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act say anything about presumptive conditions?
None of the proposed language in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act explicitly references the disability presumptive conditions. If your condition is not on the list, you may still bring a claim.
House Bill 2192 references scientific studies that can be used to show causation between the exposure and the injury. The study may be conducted on humans or animals, and it must rule out chance and bias to confirm the water exposure as a possible cause of the harm.
That the Veteran’s Administration chose eight presumptive conditions for disability claims was a judgment call by their officials for the disability benefits program. While people with those eight conditions may practically have an easier time accessing compensation, victims whose conditions do not appear on the list should not be deterred from speaking with our attorneys about claiming compensation.
What It Means If You Have a Presumptive Illness From Camp Lejeune
If you have a presumptive illness from Camp Lejeune water contamination, the government has removed a requirement for you to qualify for disability compensation. You don’t have to prove that the water exposure caused your injury. You must still bring a claim for disability and meet all the other requirements.
However, the admission of likely causation of your military service and your disease means that you don’t have to provide medical and scientific supporting documentation. The application process should be easier.
You may also access compensation through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Pending legislation doesn’t single out presumptive illnesses for priority or relax requirements to bring a claim, but your claim may rely on the very same studies that provided the basis to determine the presumptive conditions for the disability program.
Lawyers for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Presumptive Illnesses
If you have a presumptive illness and you spent time at Camp Lejeune, the Bringardner Injury Law Firm can pursue your rights. It’s our goal to seek maximum compensation for you in whatever ways possible.
We are experienced injury attorneys and prepared to fight for you until you have the results you deserve. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.