Let’s jump back into our discussion of the Elective Option in the Camp Lejeune toxic water litigation. In this Part 2 we will discuss qualifying injuries, proven exposure to toxic water, and the settlement possibilities within the Elective Option:
How Do I Prove I Have a Qualifying Injury?
You’ll need to provide medical documents indicating you were diagnosed and/or treated for a qualifying injury. These must be original or certified copies. If it’s impossible to provide either, you’ll need to sign a sworn statement explaining why you can’t provide an original or certified copy along with an uncertified copy.
How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune for More Than 30 Days?
You must offer employment or housing documents that show you lived and/or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. If your exposure was because you lived with a service member, you must provide documentation proving your relation to the service member and that the service member worked or lived at Camp Lejeune.
How Much Money Could I Get from an Elective Option?
Although the Elective Option is still very new, which means a lot of this is fluid, it depends on two main factors: how long you were exposed to the contaminated water (when working or living at Camp Lejeune) and what qualifying injury you suffered.
Individuals with Tier 1 qualifying injuries are potentially eligible for between $150,000 and $450,000. The exact amount will be divided as follows:
- Tier 1 qualifying injury plus 30 to 364 days of exposure: $150,000
- Tier 1 qualifying injury plus 1 to 5 years of exposure: $300,000
- Tier 1 qualifying injury plus more than 5 years of exposure: $450,000
Individuals with Tier 2 qualifying injuries are eligible for between $100,000 and $400,000. The exact amount will be divided as follows:
- Tier 2 qualifying injury plus 30 to 364 days of exposure: $100,000
- Tier 2 qualifying injury plus 1 to 5 years of exposure: $250,000
- Tier 2 qualifying injury plus more than 5 years of exposure: $400,000
In addition to the above, there is a $100,000 benefit added to the EO offer if a claimant died as a result of their Tier 1 or Tier 2 qualifying injuries.
If I Accept the EO Offer, Will it Affect My VA Benefits?
No, there will be no offset to VA benefits equal to the EO settlement offer received. Accepting an EO offer will not affect any treatment or medical support you’re currently receiving from the VA.
What Are the Benefits of Accepting an EO Offer?
The primary benefit of an EO is that it provides a guaranteed monetary payment much faster than through litigation. Litigation is naturally unpredictable, no matter how strong a case you have. You never know what sort of judge or jury you’ll get and what their perception of your case might be.
Even if you win your lawsuit at trial (or it settles before trial), you can expect it to take several years before you finally get a check, especially if there’s an appeal.
Another important advantage to an EO settlement offer is that it’s easier to prove your claim than in court. With a lawsuit, you’ll encounter legal defenses, such as how your injury was actually caused by your diet or exposure to a different toxin at a location other than Camp Lejeune. To overcome these arguments, you’ll need to submit extensive evidence, including expert witnesses.
While not necessarily applicable to everyone, settling a claim through the EO process could mean a lot less stress and worry. Whether it’s having money sooner to pay for much-needed expenses or not having to deal with the uncertainty of trial, being able to quickly move on from your Camp Lejeune claim can be invaluable.
What Are the Drawbacks to Accepting an EO Offer?
If you have severe and/or multiple injuries due to Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure, the EO offer probably won’t provide you with fair compensation or compensation that significantly exceeds what you could potentially get with a lawsuit. This is because the EO offer doesn’t factor in the severity of your injury or if you have multiple Tier 1 or Tier 2 qualifying injuries.
Accepting an EO offer also means you can no longer pursue your lawsuit relating to Camp Lejeune toxic water exposure. In other words, you can’t “double-dip” and receive money from the EO and litigation.
There are also several unknowns about the EO offer which could lead to more potential disadvantages. For example, even though the EO offer won’t affect VA benefits, it might negatively affect other medical benefits, such as those from Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare or private health insurers.
There’s also the fact that it’s unknown how long it will take before most claimants can expect to receive their EO offer. While unlikely, it’s possible that the EO offer could be less than a lawsuit settlement offer, yet arrive at about the same time.
How Can I Check the Status of My Administrative Claim and/or EO Offer?
Unfortunately, the DOJ and the Navy have no way of providing individual claim status updates. If you have an attorney, you can contact them to see if they have additional information. If you don’t have an attorney and want to learn more about your options for filing an administration claim or going to court, feel free to call me at 919.334.6277. There’s still time to do both, but the window for filing a lawsuit will close soon.