Thousands of Previous Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cases Mismanaged
Processors with Veterans Affairs mishandled more than one-third of all disability claims related to water contamination issues at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Military Times reported on August 25, citing a report from the department’s inspector general.
The report comes just weeks after President Joe Biden signed the PACT ACT into law. It includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act — legislation that lets individuals sue the federal government for damages from harm as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. (Future cases would be separate from these earlier disability claims).
The report noted that as many as 21,000 veterans may have lost out on financial compensation due to the mishandling. Errors in claim effective dates and retroactive payments impacted almost 4,000 veterans in just a small share of the botched cases, totaling about $14million.
As for the rest of the cases — in more than 17,000 instances — staff prematurely denied claims without asking for further “evidence of injury and exposure to the contaminated water,” Military Times noted.
“Veterans were not informed of the specific evidence needed to support the claim before the decision … Some of the veterans’ claims might have been granted if veterans had been notified of evidence needed to decide their claims,” the inspector general report revealed.
Former Marines and their family members who lost loved ones or dealt with debilitating and deadly illnesses after spending time at the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987 have been working to get justice for years. Those efforts finally paid off when the PACT Act was passed in early August.
But it is a grave injustice that many of these brave service members previously had rejected Veterans Affairs cases that could have resulted in disability payouts. Although officials promised training improvements for all offices in handling the claims in the coming months, the botched cases are still extremely unfortunate and deeply unfair.
As for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and Marine service members’ right to legal action against the United States government, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune who got sick as a result can now file lawsuits and recover compensation for the serious degree of harm done to them, and Phillips Law Group is eager to help.
We were already outraged by the details of what happened at Camp Lejeune, and this latest VA report adds to that anger.
If you or a loved one were stationed at Camp Lejeune before 1988, please don’t hesitate to contact Phillips Law Group to learn about all of your legal options. We are committed to getting justice for Marines who were wronged.
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