Delay in Camp Lejeune Payouts: Does the Elective Option Offer Hope

Camp Lejeune water contamination has garnered ample attention from the media over the years. It is considered one of the most challenging water contamination issues in the history of the United States.

It was in the first half of the 1980s that the U.S. government discovered that the drinking water available at Marine Corps Base got polluted by VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Between the years 1953 and 1987, the active-duty service members and their family members on the base were exposed to VOCs by consuming the drinking water. As a result, they suffered from various life-threatening conditions, which even included cancer.

In August 2022, the CLJA (Camp Lejeune Justice Act) was introduced, enabling veterans and those affected by the toxic waters to file their claims within August 2024. Even though this seems to be a positive move, some challenges need to be looked at.

Despite the CLJA, people are dying as the government waited for nearly four decades to show its concern for the veterans and their relatives affected by the toxic water exposure. Since several veterans who filed their claims are older adults and there are delays in processing the claims, many wonder whether they will get the compensation they deserve within their lifetime.

It seems that the government is taking its time to address and resolve the legal claims. To date, it has taken no action other than the 20,000 claims that have been filed at the office of the Judge Advocate General. In this article, we will delve into the reasons that are causing the delays in the claims process and understand if the ‘Elective Option’ can prove beneficial for anyone.

Pending Camp Lejeune Lawsuits: Reasons for Delay

In May 2023, Bloomberg Law looked into this issue and reported that the Navy lacks the required staff and money to review the compensation claims quickly. Jennifer Tennile Karnes, the Navy attorney, stated in an email to claimants that close to 500 law firms have registered to work on Camp Lejeune lawsuits.

She further asserted that the Navy has to develop an online website that will prove useful to speed up claims. It is mostly because Congress has yet to provide the extra cash required for developing and managing the compensation program aimed at veterans and other individuals affected by the tainted water at Camp Lejeune.

All these factors prompt one important question: Where is everything leading the situation? The answer is to go to the same old place, where the claims are required to be processed quickly. In the meantime, the absence of answers from the Navy for crucial concerns and the speed at which the claims are being resolved has angered veterans. The lawyers reported that a few of their clients might die before they receive their payout for Camp Lejeune water contamination.

The CLJA states that victims should first file their legal claim with the Navy, which governs the Marine Base. If their claim remains unresolved or gets denied six months after their filing, they are eligible to file a lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Last year, by the end of April, close to 900 cases were filed. The court officials said that they are awaiting thousands of more. Bloomberg Law stated that, to date, the Navy hasn’t been able to settle the 45,000 claims already filed. Considering the volume of claims, it is challenging to say if one can expect any quick movement. It is even challenging to declare a specific time for individual claim processing.

However, that shouldn’t deter you from filing your legal complaint if you or anyone you know has suffered at Camp Lejeune because of the toxic waters. One of the best ways to attempt that is by getting in touch with a lawyer who can guide you through the claims process and ensure you get the correct legal representation.

The way a lawyer develops and presents the case might increase the chances of a victim getting compensated, and maybe faster than one expected. TorHoerman Law states that it is necessary to present every piece of evidence to the lawyer so that they can use the details to build a compelling case. Evidence can include residential proof, medical records, duration of stay at the base, healthcare data, and any other valid anecdotal account.

Lawyers ensure that their clients get the desired compensation that effectively covers all their economic and non-economic damages so that they can lead a better life.

The Elective Option: Is It Useful?

Considering the grim state of affairs in terms of case delays, the Elective Option came into existence in September 2023. This option aims to speed up the payment process and provide a compensation amount to the veterans and victims based on their situation.

To qualify for this, the applicants should have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions or diseases before August 10th, 2022. Here, the ailments are categorized into two tiers and should be recognized by the toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune.

  • TIER-1: The ailments listed include leukemia, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder cancer, and liver cancer. Here, the payout is $450,000.
  • TIER-2: The ailments listed include systemic scleroderma, multiple myeloma, kidney disease, and Parkinson’s disease. The payout here would be either $250,000, $400,000, or $100,000.

For any condition that includes death, an extra $100,000 will be offered by the government. Hence, people who need the compensation amount urgently to pay for medical costs or are older adults can opt for this option. 

On the other hand, people who can wait and feel they might have a chance to receive more compensation through the customary lawsuit can opt for that as well. It is essential to analyze one’s condition and make a judgment call accordingly.

Summing up, the Camp Lejeune cases will take time to get processed. That means, even the veterans will have to wait before they get the compensation they have been hoping for to cover all their economic and non-economic damages. Here, veterans can choose to file a lawsuit or opt for the Elective Option. Both have their benefits, and it is a smart call to make based on one’s current condition.

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