After decades of attempting to compel the federal government to correct the water toxicity issue at Camp Lejeune, the Biden administration signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law in August 2022.
The PACT Act allows veterans to file Camp Lejuene water contamination claims that the VA previously denied due to eligibility issues. Thanks to the PACT Act, you and your family members are entitled to compensation for damages incurred from serving at Camp Lejeune.
If you served at Camp Lejeune and are looking for healthcare cost assistance or compensation, here’s what you need to know about the PACT Act.
The PACT and Camp Lejeune Justice Act Explained
The PACT Act expands the VA’s healthcare and benefits program, extending access to veterans who served in the Gulf and Vietnam Wars, post-9/11 veterans, and those stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 30, 1987. The legislation also allows affected persons to sue the federal government for compensation for damages incurred at the North Carolina military base.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, a section of the PACT Act, prohibits the government from placing specific litigation immunities in response to Camp Lejeune lawsuits. These immunities were why water-toxicity cases didn’t get complete justice for nearly three decades.
Now, veterans, their family members, civilian workers, contractors, or others who were at the base for 30 days can file lawsuits and claim VA benefits without being denied.
The PACT Act also adds 23 new toxicity-related presumptive conditions associated with the ingestion of volatile organic compounds in drinking water. Some of the conditions include the following:
- Parkinson’s disease
- 11 respiratory-related conditions
- Infertility or birth injuries
- Blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia
- Liver, brain, kidney, or heart disease
- Organ cancers like liver and kidney cancer
How to Claim Benefits Under the PACT Act
To get a VA disability rating, you must prove how time in service is connected to the condition you are/were suffering from. However, in the case of Camp Lejeune, the VA automatically assumes that your service caused the condition.
These are known as presumptive conditions and are established by law.
Under the PACT Act, you’re entitled to healthcare coverage and compensation — but you’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria to file a disability compensation claim and receive benefits.
To be eligible for Camp Lejeune health benefits and lawsuits, you must have:
- Medical records to confirm you have at least one of the eligible conditions
- Military records showing you were at Camp Lejeune during the relevant timeframe
- Proof that you weren’t dishonorably discharged from military service
Filing a claim
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can file a claim online on the Veteran Affairs official’s website or get help from an accredited veteran’s representative. All Camp Lejeune cases are filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG), which has specific CLJA claim forms.
On average, the VA will take around 120 days to complete your claim. If you filed a claim before but were denied because your condition wasn’t presumptive, you should file a Supplemental claim.
If you lived in Camp Lejeune between January 1, 1957, to December 31, 1987, the VA will reimburse costs incurred on or after December 16, 2012, and up to two years before the application date. If you stayed between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1956, you’ll be reimbursed for care received after December 16, 2014, and up to two years before applying.
Leav & Steinberg LLP Is Your Camp Lejeune Injury Law Firm
While you can file a Camp Lejeune claim yourself, it’s highly advisable you contact an experienced injury law attorney. Camp Lejeune claims are filed to the federal government, making the process slightly different.
At Leav & Steinberg LLP, we have over 17 years of experience with high success in claims, thanks to our personal injury lawyers who are well-versed in federal claims procedures. We offer free consultations and will help you navigate the tricky parts of a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, including gathering critical evidence to prove your claim.
We don’t charge attorney fees until the case is won and are willing to travel and offer home consultations to help you receive complete justice.
Request your free consultation to get started on your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim today.