What Is Camp Lejeune Presumptive Status?
The contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune has led to illness, disease, and death for many exposed military service members, their family members, and civilian workers. Scientific study of the contaminated water and the toxic substances in it has led the government to change its rules. The Veterans Administration (VA) has given “presumptive status” to certain conditions, meaning that those who meet the criteria for service at Camp Lejeune automatically qualify for disability benefits.
But that’s just the beginning.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and Presumptive Status
Military service members, whether in the Marine Corps or otherwise, face many threats – not all of which involve combat. The tasks required of the military mean service members are exposed to situations and chemicals that could have long-term health effects. When these illnesses are identified and verified, the VA may grant them “presumptive status.”
Qualified service members with illnesses that have “presumptive status” are automatically entitled to VA disability benefits. Normally, when a service member is diagnosed with a sickness or disease they believe is related to their time in the military, they must provide medical evidence to prove that the disease and their service are linked. This is called a service connection.
For those who spent at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987, the VA has identified several illnesses (see below) that it found to be presumptive. They’re also called “presumptive conditions.”
What Are Camp Lejeune “Presumptive Conditions,” and Do I Qualify?
Based on scientific studies, medical evidence, and the analysis of data gathered by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the VA set the following guidelines for VA disability benefits for those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination:
- You or a loved one must have served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days (cumulative, not consecutive) during the established window between August 1953 and December 1987.
- You or a loved one must not have been dishonorably discharged from service.
- You or a loved one must be or have been a veteran, reservist, or National Guard personnel.
If you or a loved one meet those criteria, the VA presumes that all of the following illnesses have been caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune – even if you were exposed to other toxins before or afterwards:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The VA automatically grants disability benefits to qualified persons with those conditions. In addition, those who have or continue to suffer from these conditions – and the family members of those who have passed – can file a claim for compensation under the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
Is Compensation Possible for Other Medical Conditions for Those Who Were Exposed at Camp Lejeune?
Yes! The list of presumptive conditions is not the limit – not even close. It’s simply the diseases that the VA has determined it will award disability benefits for without needing a service connection. Multiple studies have linked many other illnesses and conditions to the toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds in the water at Camp Lejeune.
These other medical conditions fall into two categories: qualified diseases and causally linked diseases.
What Are “Qualified Diseases”?
One step away from “presumptive conditions” are “qualified diseases.” Essentially, while the VA has not granted these diseases “presumptive” status, they do provide some benefits to qualified Camp Lejeune service members, loved ones, and civilians who suffer from them.
These qualifying diseases include:
- Breast Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Female Infertility
- Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver)
- Kidney Disease
- Lung Cancer
- Myelodysplastic Syndromes
- Neurobehavioral Effects (Includes Memory Loss, PTSD, and Other Cognitive Defects)
- Renal Toxicity
What Are “Causally Linked Diseases”?
Camp Lejeune veterans may not have the presumptive conditions that can enable them to receive VA benefits without medical records that link their illnesses with their service. However, a significant amount of scientific evidence indicates that many more diseases and ailments could result from the contamination.
These are “causally linked” because there is evidence that the water contaminants caused them. In other words, just because you do not have one of the eight presumptive conditions or a “qualified disease” does not mean your illness was not caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination, nor does it bar you from seeking benefits and compensation.
The causally linked diseases to Camp Lejeune include:
- Numerous Head And Neck Cancers
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Bile Duct Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
- Spinal Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Gallbladder Cancer
- Intestinal Cancer
- Various Neurobehavioral Defects
- Autoimmune Diseases
Do I Need Medical Evidence if I Have a Qualified or Causally Linked Disease?
While it is not necessarily required, private medical records can help establish a timeline or a link to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Things like base housing records, service dates, VA medical records, and the like can strengthen your Camp Lejeune claim.
The strongest argument you have for possible compensation is time of service at Camp Lejeune. The longer you or a loved one served, worked, or lived there, the more plausible it is that your condition arose due to the contaminated water. That, alone, is a strong service connection regardless of other factors.
If you believe you have suffered any of the above illnesses due to Camp Lejeune water contamination, put us to work for you. Even if you’re unsure how long or when exactly you or a loved one were at Camp Lejeune, we can still help. Disability compensation, paid medical expenses, and future medical treatment may all be possible.
What Compensation Can I Seek in a Camp Lejeune Water Lawsuit?
There are multitudes of illnesses and diseases that could have been caused by the toxic water supply at Camp Lejeune. Different people react differently to exposure. That means that every case is unique, and the possible compensation from the government can differ. Our experienced attorneys will consider the following factors when calculating potential damages for your Camp Lejeune toxic water claim:
- Medical expenses incurred
- Medical treatment needed
- Future health care expenses
- Possible disability benefits
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of society and companionship for the loss of a loved one
- Loss of financial support due to the death of a family member
How We Can Help Those Who Suffered From Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
If you served at Camp Lejeune, the attached Marine Corps Air Station, or anywhere on its nearly 250 square mile footprint, you were put at unnecessary risk. If you worked or were stationed with your loved one who served at Camp Lejeune, you were also put at risk.
Our law firm is already fighting for hundreds of veterans, service members, families, and workers seeking compensation for illnesses linked to or caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination. You may not know the exact cause of your illness or where you or a loved one contracted it. We urge you to call us for a free case evaluation.
We can help Camp Lejeune veterans, their families, and civilian workers by:
- Explaining the claims process and ensuring compliance with timelines and procedures
- Building a claim backed by facts, medical records, and evidence
- Filing your claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where all claims must be filed
- Representing you in court, if needed
We’ve successfully fought the government before – on behalf of Black farmers in one of the largest civil rights cases in U.S. history3 – and we are currently fighting 3M for veterans suffering from hearing loss in one of the largest multi-district litigations in U.S. history.
3 Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin led a team of firms to recover $1.25 billion for Black farmers from the U. S. government for discrimination.
*Years of designation for “Power List” are 2021-22. For standards of inclusion, visit https://www.farrin.com/business-nc-power-list/; years of designation for “ones to watch” are 2020-23. For standards of inclusion, visit bestlawyers.com; year of designation for “top 40 under 40” is 2021. For standards of inclusion, visit thenationaltriallawyers.org.