Even though it happened decades of years ago, many Camp Lejeune victims who were exposed to toxic substances are still dealing with the impacts today. Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that close to 1 million veterans, civilian workers, and family members may be at risk of contracting health problems due to the contaminants that were present in the military base drinking water. Fortunately, those who were affected have several rights and opportunities available to them that allow them to seek compensation for their suffering. However, before they can receive those benefits, they must meet certain eligibility criteria.
Foremost, supposed victims must be able to prove that they were present at the affected military bases (including Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River, and other installations) between August 1953 and December 1987. The proof can include a military ID card, a copy of an order, or any other official documentation that proves service at either of the affected military bases for 30 days or more. It’s important to note that family members of the veteran service members, and civilians who were stationed at the base during the specified period, are also eligible to file a compensation claim.
Secondly, they must also be able to prove that their health condition is directly linked to the exposure. This entails a long list of ailments including various forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive health issues – which have since been linked to the Camp Lejeune toxic water. As such, individuals who believe they might be victims of toxic exposure have several rights and benefits available to them. These include:
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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
This refers to the right of an individual to access records or documents that are maintained by federal government agencies. This allows victims of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to request their military records and other documents which might be useful in filing a compensation claim. There’s already a set of FOIA requests that have been tailored specifically for these victims. Having this information will save you time when filing a lawsuit. Keeping track of these details is important when trying to file a claim as you have solid evidence to prove that you were affected.
Right to File a Compensation Claim
Victims can file a claim for disability compensation with the VA through form, 21-526EZ, which is available on their website. Those who are eligible can potentially receive benefits. These benefits include monthly disability payouts, health care services, and treatments related to the exposure. Federal civilian employees can file a claim for compensation benefits through the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). It’s best to apply these forms immediately. That way you have a better chance of getting these benefits.
Right to Seek Medical Treatment for Related Health Problems
Since it has already been established that certain health ailments can be linked to contaminants from the affected military camps, victims are also entitled to medical treatment for resulting exposure. Fortunately, part of compensation claims also includes payment for medical services and expenses that are related to their condition. Having these details are important to ensure that you have a solid case. If you have been affected by these chemicals, you deserve compensation for the medical bills.
Although the contamination at Camp Lejeune has had far-reaching implications on hundreds of thousands of veterans, civilian workers, and their family members. Affected individuals have several rights available to them. These include the right to request documents or information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), eligibility for compensation (including incurred expenses) through VA or FECA, and the right to seek medical treatment for health problems that are related to exposure. Knowing this information can save you time and money in the long run. Reaching out to an attorney who is competent in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit will ensure that you get the benefits that you deserve.