Filing a lawsuit over contaminated water at Camp Lejeune won’t affect a veteran’s eligibility for VA benefits. Nor will it affect the amount of VA disability payments the veteran receives. But is the reverse true? Can a veteran’s VA benefits affect the award amount from a lawsuit filed over the toxic water?
There are some circumstances in which the answer to this question is yes. Whether you currently receive VA benefits or are considering applying for them, you need to know your rights. This is especially true if you have filed or will be filing a Camp Lejeune contaminated water lawsuit.
Rueb Stoller Daniel takes a close look at this important issue.
The Basics of the Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuits
Under the Camp LeJeune Justice Act, eligible veterans can file claims concerning contaminated water at Camp LeJeune.
The water at the base has long been known to sicken veterans and others due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are highly toxic chemicals used in degreasers and dry-cleaning solvents. Over several decades, VOCs spilled or leaked from underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites into the water.
VOCs are extremely dangerous to human health. They are known to cause serious medical ailments, including but not limited to various cancers. Veterans who drank, cooked with, or otherwise were exposed to the water at Camp LeJeune may have become ill.
VA Benefits and How They May Affect a Lawsuit Award
The purpose of filing a lawsuit related to the Camp Lejeune contaminated water is to win damages. Damages are the sum of monetary compensation awarded to successful plaintiffs. Veterans and others who are eligible to file a claim can seek various types of damages. So, too, can surviving family members of those who died because of the contaminated water.
With respect to the Camp Lejeune toxic water claims, veterans and survivors may be able to seek the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Wrongful death
The amount of compensation that is awarded will vary from one victim to another. If you already receive VA disability benefits, they may affect your lawsuit award if both of the following are true:
- You win an award pursuant to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, and
- You already receive VA benefits or health care related to the water at Camp Lejeune.
The court will reduce (or “offset”) your award by the amount of VA benefits you receive related to the water. That includes any disability award, payment, or benefit that concerns the Camp Lejeune water.
However, VA benefits that aren’t related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune will not affect your award from a lawsuit.
Helping You Understand and Advocate for Your Rights
At Rueb Stoller Daniel, we don’t just help injury victims stand up for their rights. We also help them understand those rights. Our firm works on behalf of veterans and others made sick at Camp Lejeune. If you or a loved one became ill because of the contaminated water at the Marine Corps base, call us. We can get started on your claim today.