With the bill’s passage by Congress, and President Biden’s recent signing, the Camp Lejeune Act has finally become law.
Victims of exposure to the toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune will finally have an opportunity to seek meaningful compensation for the myriad of injuries they have manifested over the course of their lifetimes. Marines, their spouses and children, and those who supported them at Camp Lejeune are all eligible to pursue claims. This one-of-a-kind, completely unique statute provides a two-year window for Camp Lejeune victims to file claims. The statute of limitations, which had expired on these claims, has been “reopened” to give these victims a two-year opportunity with restored rights to seek compensation.
Camp Lejeune victims across the country are being made aware of this remarkable new law and are retaining counsel to help them pursue their rights. The federal law requires that the victim, typically through their attorney, file a notice of intention to make the claim with the government, and the government then has six (6) months to respond. Typically, the government denies the claim and a formal lawsuit then has to be filed.
The new statute requires all lawsuits to be filed in the state of North Carolina. The judge who will handle these cases has not yet been assigned. Once the litigation gets started, we can all expect a years-long fight over issues such as exposure, disease causation and the magnitude of the injuries supporting compensation claims. Some of the best attorneys in the country are gearing up, hiring staff and experts, and evaluating claims to provide representation to what will in all likelihood be a very large group of victims. The number of claims could be in the hundreds of thousands. Since the statute only provides a limited two-year window, anyone who believes they may have had exposure to toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune from the years 1953 through 1987, should seek counsel and take the necessary steps to get their claims filed.
We need to take one moment to express our appreciation to the members of Congress and to the President for passing this unique, and possibly life-altering legislation on behalf of our military servicemen and women. Unfortunately, chemical exposures such as the ones which occurred at Camp Lejeune occur more often than we might think, and in ways and places that we might not even consider. However, because chemical exposures are often “invisible”, victims of those exposures are often ignored. Victims of chemical exposures should be as entitled as anyone else in our society to seek compensation if they were wrongly injured. Our government has recognized that need in this instance and we look forward to the day when Camp Lejeune victims are awarded the compensation they have been seeking for decades. Hopefully, the lives of those impacted will finally be altered in a positive way.