Our lawyers and handling Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuits in all 50 states. We are representing victims who have lost a loved one as a result of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The page is about the claims survivors can bring the potential settlement amount surviving family members may receive.
From 1953 to the late 1980s, the water supply at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps in North Carolina was dangerously contaminated with deadly chemicals. A stunning one million people were exposed to these chemicals and studies have shown that they caused many residents to develop cancer and die prematurely.
Many of the victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination died years ago and their families were never able to legal compensation for their deaths because they were legally barred from bringing civil lawsuits. Now, however, a new federal law called the PACT Act is about to give the surviving family members of Lejeune victims the right to bring wrongful death lawsuits against the federal government. This law will allow surviving family members to sue the government even if the victim of the Camp Lejeune water died decades ago.
Overview of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune is a very large Marine Corps base and training facility in North Carolina. The base opened in the early 1940s and has been in continuous use since then. At any given time, Lejeune is a home and place of work for over 50,000 Marines (and their families) and civilian employees.
From August 1953 to December 1987, the water supply provided to residents and employees at Camp Lejeune was corrupted with toxic chemicals, primarily the chlorinated industrial solvents perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). The level of these chemicals contaminating the water supply at Lejeune were often a thousand times higher than the maximum safe levels set by the EPA.
It has been estimated that between 700,000 and 1 million people had significant exposure to the poisoned water at Camp Lejeune. This population includes Marines and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune and lived in on-base housing facilities. It also includes military personnel and civilian contractors who worked at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Water Caused Premature Deaths
The contamination of the water supply at Camp Lejeune was finally uncovered in the late 1980s. Since that time the federal government has funded extensive scientific research and studies to determine exactly how much harm the polluted water may have caused to residents and employees of the base.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal health agency that operates as part of the Centers for Disease Control. Over the last 30 years, the ATSDR conducted some of the most comprehensive studies on the health impact of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. This included a morbidity study that examined the death rates and causes for over 150,000 former employees and residents of Camp Lejeune during the contamination period.
The ATSDR Morbidity Study found that individuals who were exposed to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water suffered higher rates of certain types of cancer. The cancers associated with the Camp Lejeune water include kidney cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. The studies also found higher rates of other health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and birth defects.
The public health studies determined that many former Camp Lejeune residents and employees died prematurely as a result of the diseases and health conditions associated with the contaminated water. Since the water contamination at Lejeune dates back to the early 1950s, many of these victims died decades ago.
Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims Under New Law
When a person dies as a direct result of someone else’s negligence, the decedent’s surviving family members can sue the negligent party and seek financial compensation. This is known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
The toxic chemicals in the water supply at Camp Lejeune caused thousands of former residents and employees of the base to die prematurely from things like kidney and bladder cancer, leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease. The causal connection between these deaths and the contaminated water at Lejeune has been established by public health studies.
The contamination of the water supply at Camp Lejeune was caused by the negligence of the USMC. This means that the surviving family members of these victims should have had the legal right to sue the federal government for wrongful death and get monetary damages.
Many family members of Camp Lejeune victims have brought wrongful death cases against the government over the years. Unfortunately, all these claims have ultimately been barred based on a strict law in North Carolina known as a statute of repose. As a result of this North Carolina law, none of the Camp Lejeune victims or their families have ever been able to get compensation for their losses.
Now, however, Congress is very close to enacting a new federal law that will change all of this and give family members of Camp Lejeune victims the ability to bring wrongful death lawsuits against the government. The law is called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and it is part of a larger bill called the Honoring Our Pact Act (PACT Act).
When the PACT Act becomes law (which should happen before the end of this Summer), family members of deceased Camp Lejeune residents and employees will be entitled to file wrongful death claims. Claimants will need to prove that their deceased relative lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the relevant period and that they died prematurely from a disease that has been connected to the water contamination.
FAQs: Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Cases
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuits.
Can families of deceased Camp Lejeune victims bring wrongful death lawsuits?
Under a new federal law that is about to be passed, immediate family members of individuals who died prematurely as a result of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune will have the right bring wrongful death lawsuits against the federal government. Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuits can be brought even if the person died decades ago.
Can families bring Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuits when the victim died years ago?
Yes. A new federal law (the PACT Act) is about to be enacted giving family members of Camp Lejeune victims the ability to bring wrongful death lawsuits even when the death happened decades ago.
What proof will be necessary for Camp Lejeune wrongful death cases?
To bring a successful Cam Lejeune wrongful death claim, family members will need to prove that the decedent lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period and that they died prematurely from a health condition associated with the water contamination.
How much compensation can families get for Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuits?
Surviving family members who bring a successful Camp Lejeune lawsuit can get a settlement or financial compensation for their loss. The average wrongful death settlement amount could be worth $250,000 to $1,000,000.
Wrongful Death Claims Under North Carolina Law
Under the recently enacted CLJA, civil lawsuits can now be brought on behalf of deceased Camp Lejeune residents or employees who died from injuries related to the water contamination. These cases would be brought under the wrongful death tort laws of North Carolina because that is the location where the harm occurred. This section will provide a basic summary of North Carolina death claims.
Two Causes of Action For Camp Lejeune Death
Every Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuit will be brought under North Carolina law. So if you live in California, New York, Texas, Florida, or any other state, your lawsuit must filed in North Carolina and North Carolina will the controlling law for your claim.
North Carolina recognizes two separate causes of action that can be brought on behalf of someone after they die: (1) a claim for wrongful death, and (2) a survivorship claim. Both claims are based on statutes.
Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Lawsuit
North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 provides that a cause of action for wrongful death can be brought against any person or entity who wrongfully causes the death of another through negligent or intentional conduct. In many states, any close family member of the decedent can bring a wrongful death claim.
In North Carolina, however, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has standing to bring the wrongful death claim. Any settlement proceeds from the claim are eventually disbursed among the heirs.
Damages for a successful wrongful death claim under North Carolina law include: (i) past medical expenses, (ii) the decedent’s lost earnings, (iii) the decedent’s pain & mental suffering, (iv) loss of services and companionship, and (v) funeral expenses. In cases involving malice, punitive damages can also be available.
Camp Lejeune Survival Action Lawsuit
North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-1 establishes a separate cause of action known as a survivorship claim. Just like a wrongful death claim, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a survival claim, which is essentially the decedent’s personal injury claim that survives death. Survivor claims in North Carolina can recover damages for pre-death injuries as long as they are separate and distinct from the basis for the wrongful death claim.
The CLJA now allows wrongful death claims to be brought on behalf of former Camp Lejeune residents and employees who died as a result of exposure to the contaminated water. These claims must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Survivorship claims could also be brought by a decedent’s estate for pre-death injuries related to the contaminated water at Lejeune.
Settlement Value of Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Cases
It is too early to know with any level of certainty how much Camp Lejeune wrongful death cases will be worth. There are simply too many unknown variables at this stage. We can offer a reasonable estimate of the potential value of these cases by looking at settlement values for similar wrongful death cases with comparable circumstances.
Based on prior settlement amounts, we think that Camp Lejeune wrongful death cases will have a settlement value range between $250,000 and $1,000,000. Wrongful death cases are always high-value tort cases just because they often present highly emotional narratives that can result in huge jury verdicts. In Camp Lejeune death cases, the plaintiffs will be even more sympathetic than usual because the decedents will be mostly veterans who honorably served our country.
Factors that could push the potential value of individual Camp Lejeune wrongful death cases up toward the top of this range would include the age of the decedent, their education level, earning potential, and extent of medical treatment before they died.
Contact Our Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyers
Our Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawyers believe that this new law will pass. Congress wants Camp Lejeune water contamination victims to receive reasonable settlement compensation payouts. We can help you and your family. Call our Camp Lejeune lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation online case review. The call or online review is free. In fact, our attorneys never make a cent unless you do first. Our attorneys front all costs and expenses so you are never at risk to be out-of-pocket if you bring a Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuit.