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Navy and Justice Department Offer Faster Camp Lejeune Payouts

Navy and Justice Department Offer Faster Camp Lejeune Payouts

In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Individuals who had served at the camp were experiencing adverse health effects after drinking water at the camp.

In the past few weeks, a new player has emerged in the ongoing battles regarding Camp Lejeune’s toxic water exposure: the United States Department of the Navy.

Together with the Department of Justice, the Department of the Navy has finalized an “Elective Option” for Veterans exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, as well as their eligible survivors, to receive a payout from the Department of the Navy. The payout for which a qualifying individual is eligible varies, depending on their diagnosis, but can amount to between $100,000 and $550,000.

More than 1,100 federal lawsuits and 93,000 administrative claims have been submitted since health effects due to the toxicity of the water at Camp Lejeune began to be discovered. Qualifying parties can opt to take the more streamlined payouts rather than continue with litigation.

Navy Elective Option Payout Q&A

What happens to the existing lawsuits based on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

The original Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuits will continue. The process for bringing a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act has NOT been abolished. Veterans and eligible survivors who wish to pursue this route can still do so, but a veteran who opts for the elective payouts would do so in lieu of their lawsuit or administrative claims.

Is the elective option faster than a lawsuit?

The Navy and DOJ have both stated the purpose of the elective option was to make remedies available to veterans faster than a lawsuit would. However, time will tell if this is the case. There is no prescribed timeline for payouts yet. Lawsuits take a notoriously long time to work through the system—often years. Therefore, it is likely the elective option will be faster.

How will a veteran or an eligible survivor know how much money they should receive if they decide to pursue the Elective Option?

The payout will depend on how long the veteran lived at Camp Lejeune and the condition for which they’re seeking compensation. The Navy payout option is categorized into two tiers:

Tier One: Claimants with kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, or bladder cancer would receive settlement offers of $450,000, $300,000 or $150,000, depending on whether the claimant was exposed to Camp Lejeune water for more than five years, between one and five years, or between 30 and 364 days, respectively.

Tier Two: Claimants with multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease (end stage renal disease), or systemic sclerosis/systemic scleroderma would receive settlement offers of $400,000, $250,000, or $100,000, depending on whether the claimant was exposed to Camp Lejeune water for over five years, between one and five years, or between 30 and 364 days, respectively.

Additionally, if the illness caused the death of the party exposed to the Camp Lejeune water, an additional $100,000 gets added to the base payout.

Case Studies: Examples

Claimant 1 served for three years at Camp Lejeune. He currently has a diagnosis of adult leukemia. Claimant 1 appears to be eligible for an offer of $300,000 from the Department of the Navy, because he suffers from a Tier One illness and served between one and five years at Camp Lejeune.

Claimant 2 served for three years at Camp Lejeune. He passed away from leukemia. Claimant 2’s surviving spouse appears to be eligible for an offer of $400,000 from the Department of the Navy, because Claimant 2 suffered from a Tier One illness, served between one and five years at Camp Lejeune, and passed away from the Camp Lejeune-induced illness.

Claimant 3 served for five years at Camp Lejeune. He has a current diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Claimant 3 appears to be eligible for an offer of $400,000 from the Department of the Navy, because he suffers from a Tier Two illness and served for five years at Camp Lejeune.

Claimant 4 served for five years at Camp Lejeune. She has a current diagnosis of liver cancer. Claimant 4 appears to be eligible for an offer of $450,000 from the Department of the Navy, because she suffers from a Tier One illness and served for five years at Camp Lejeune.

Is a claimant who applies for the elective option required to accept the Navy’s offer?

Not necessarily; the Navy grants claimants sixty (60) days to decide whether they wish to accept the offered money, or whether they wish to pursue a larger settlement.

If a claimant is receiving VA benefits due to a Camp Lejeune-related illness, will money received from the Navy under the Elective Option be offset by the amount that the claimant is receiving in VA benefits?

Surprisingly, no! Any payments issued under the Elective Option are NOT OFFSET by VA disability benefits. This is different from the governing procedures from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuits. With the lawsuits, any verdict or settlement awarding money to a veteran who is already receiving disability compensation for a Camp Lejeune-related medical condition WILL be offset by the amount received in VA disability benefits for the Camp Lejeune-related condition(s).

Will accepting an elective option payout impact VA medical care for a service-connected Camp Lejeune-related illness?

Again, the answer surprisingly is no! Payments issued under the Elective Option will have no offsets or other adverse impacts upon a Veteran’s qualification for VA healthcare without co-pays for Camp Lejeune-related medical conditions.

How do I establish eligibility for the Elective Option?

This is a two-step process. First, complete the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claims Form. Second, save the form using the following naming convention prescribed by the Navy: LAST NAME FIRST NAME MM.DD.YYYY. Email the completed form as an attachment to clclaims@us.navy.mil.

If the Navy denies my eligibility for the elective option, can I still pursue other avenues of compensation?

Yes. A claimant who files with the Department of the Navy and receives a denial has NOT waived their right to subsequently file a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. This claimant can go forward with the lawsuit in federal court.

If a claimant has already filed a lawsuit in federal court under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, but that claimant now wishes to file for a settlement under the Elective Option, can that claimant do so?

Yes. This claimant can file under the Elective Option and seek a settlement if they wish. The fact that they previously filed a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act does not prevent them from now seeking a settlement from the Department of the Navy under the terms of this new Elective Option.

VA Benefits for Camp Lejeune Claims

To receive compensation for a service-connected condition related to service at Camp Lejeune through the VA, a claimant needs to meet two requirements:

  1. The claimant served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune OR Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and
  2. The claimant has a diagnosis of one of 15 covered conditions: bladder cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, hepatic steatosis, kidney cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, miscarriage, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, neurobehavioral effects, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal toxicity, or scleroderma.

Connect with an experienced veterans disability attorney

If you or your loved one has questions about payouts for conditions related to Camp Lejeune, contact the Cameron Firm today. Set up a free consultation by calling 800-861-7262. We represent veterans nationwide.

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