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Malibu Brush Fire

Malibu brush fire

A Malibu brush fire broke out this weekend on the 19000 block of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The blaze was reported as 50% contained and the conditions were improving. However, this was an odd fire as California had been subjected to torrential rains for several weeks, saturating the ground with rain water from San Diego to the Oregon border.

The fire was about one eighth of an acre according to fire officials. Even though it was small, there were road closures as a result of this latest Malibu fire. Residents were relieved that there were no structures ablaze, but the northbound lanes on Latino Canyon Road near Route 1/PCH were shut down for some time due to safety concerns and firefighting efforts.

PCH Closed Due to Malibu Brush Fire

PCH was briefly closed in both directions on the 21st near Tuna Canyon Rd, but was reopened shortly thereafter.

Malibu has seen some of the most severe wildfires in the nation, including the Woolsey Fire which destroyed more than 1,600 structures and burned roughly 100,000 acres. A significant evacuation had to occur as well, with more than 295,000 people forced to flee the area. Litigation began very quickly resulting both from the cause of the fire as well as the subsequent insurance issues.

Insurance bad faith lawyers and fire litigation attorneys filed thousands of lawsuits against insurance carriers, Southern California Edison and even the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. In that fire, SoCal Edison reported an outage in the Big Rock 16 KV station outside Chatsworth which is just south of Simi Valley (Ventura County). The brush fire was initially reported in that exact location and within 20 minutes Ventura County firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze.

Billions of Dollars in Damage

However, the severity of the fire quickly escalated as winds made the problem far worse. Dry, windy conditions existed throughout the state of California, and the fire exploded. Before it was all over, 3 people were killed and billions of dollars in damage were done to Malibu and the surrounding region.

On that same day, the Camp Fire in Northern California destroyed most of the town of Paradise, CA and cost the lives of 85 people. It was one of the deadliest days on record for wildfires in the state of California and the nation. Fire litigation lawyers, such as those at Singleton Schreiber, were hard at work representing people who lost their homes, lost their property, lost their businesses and lost loved ones due to SoCal Edison’s negligence. Furthermore, the insurance bad faith attorneys represented people whose claims were delayed and denied by billion and trillion dollar insurance corporations.

The Woolsey Fire led to $6 billion in property damage. The Camp Fire Damage was estimated at $16.5 billion. All told, California homeowners have suffered more than $100 billion in property damage due to negligence by various utilities, including SoCal Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

“Fires are a brutal reality due to climate change,” said Gerald Singleton, managing partner at Singleton Schreiber. “However, when utilities such as PG&E and SoCal Edison allow their aging equipment to start fires, it makes life impossible for residents and firefighting incredibly dangerous for first responders.”

First Noteworthy California Fire of 2023

The brush fire in Malibu was the first noticeable one in Southern California in 2023, but with the rains come increased brush and growth, meaning fire season could be far more active this year. Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, San Bernardino County, Orange County and San Diego County will all need to be aware of the potential fire hazards to residents, businesses and property.

For anyone seeking a qualified fire attorney with significant experience, Singleton Schreiber’s team of fire lawyers is second to none.

Hiring a lawyer when in such a predicament can seem expensive, but it will be well worth it if it means getting compensation for the property you have lost. Most insurance agencies have ways to twist and bend the rules so as not to pay claims; your attorney will come in handy to make sure that you get paid the full value of what your belongings were worth. In California, Singleton Schreiber is your trusted property damage attorneys. We are experts in taking care of you when it comes to wildfire claims. Call them today at (619) 771-3473.

A Guide to Help You Through a Personal Injury Claim

A Guide to Help You Through a Personal Injury Claim

Getting injured in an accident is a painful, time-consuming, and costly experience. Whether you have been in a car crash or a slip-and-fall accident, there are certain steps that you should take to expedite your recovery and get the money you need for your medical care from the insurance company.

What To Do At The Scene

Having an accident can be very upsetting. It is hard to keep your emotions together, and you might even go into shock. However, if you do certain things at the scene of the accident, you will have an easier time receiving compensation.

In a car accident, you must pull over to the side of the road and check if there are any injuries. If anyone is hurt or there has been considerable damage to property, you must call the police and wait for them to arrive.

Get the names of any witnesses who may have seen the accident and take pictures if you can. When the police get there, simply tell them what happened. You should never admit guilt at the scene of an accident. Request a copy of the accident report, and when you get it, make sure all of its information is accurate and the times and dates are correct. 

When an ambulance arrives at the scene, you should let the paramedics treat you and go to the hospital with them if they recommend it. Even if you feel fine after an accident, you should still go to see your doctor. There are some injuries that you might not feel right away.

If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a business, you should look around to find out what caused you to fall. If you fell over an object discarded in a walkway or slipped on a wet floor, the company’s insurance should pay for it.

Notify the manager right away, and they will fill out an accident report. They must also give you their insurance information. As with a car accident,  get the names and numbers of any witnesses who may have seen the incident and take pictures of the accident scene if you can. Never refuse medical treatment. If you are injured in a person’s home, you should get the person’s homeowner’s insurance information.

Keep a Record of Your Treatments

According to Personal injury lawyers Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, you should keep a record of every medical bill you get and ask the doctor to write you a report about your progress. If you have to get physical therapy, ask your physical therapist to write you a report as well. You should also keep records of any alternative treatments you use, such as massage or flotation therapy.

Be sure to save a copy of every bill that you get, even if your health insurance has paid for it. Save the receipts from any medicine you take, whether prescription or non-prescription.

Some people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a very bad accident, while others may suffer acute depression. If you need psychiatric treatment because of your accident, save a record of the bills from your sessions as well. You should get the mental health professional you see to write you a report. It never hurts to keep a diary of your daily life when you have experienced an accident. 

You should not only record your thoughts and feelings about your injuries, but also any activities you cannot participate in due to your injuries.

Record Any Loss of Income

If you have your doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day, chances are you will have to miss some work. Ask the HR department of your company to write you a letter stating the number of hours that you have missed and the amount of income you have lost. If you were unable to participate in important work or company events, they should include that in the letter.

Accidents can leave you in too much pain to do housework or drive. If you could not do housework and needed help, you should save a copy of the bills for the housekeeper service.  You should save Uber or Lyft receipts as well.

If you had to miss an important event because of your accident, save evidence of that. For example, if you bought plane tickets, you should make a copy of your credit card bill.

Contact Your Insurance Company

There are two different kinds of auto insurance rules in the United States: fault and no fault. In a fault state, the person who is responsible for the accident is also responsible for its bills. In a no-fault state, your insurance will pay for your accident no matter who caused the accident. 

The state of Pennsylvania follows the no-fault rule. When you have a car accident, you will contact your insurance company and report the collision to them. They will have ten days to respond to your claim. When they respond, they will ask you to provide them with all the documentation you have of the accident and your bills. The sooner you send in your information, the sooner they will be able to investigate your case, which will be assigned to an insurance adjuster. They will then have 15 days to investigate your claim and decide whether or not they will compensate you for the accident.

If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a business, you should contact the business’s insurance company. They will investigate the claim and let you know whether or not it has been accepted or denied.

If your insurance claim is accepted, they will offer you a settlement amount. It is extremely important to contact a personal injury attorney before you accept any settlement offer.

Contact an Attorney

Whether an insurance company accepts your claim or not, you should contact an attorney and set up an appointment for a free consultation. If the insurance company has denied your claim, the lawyer can examine the facts of your case and tell you if they think you should sue. If an insurance company has made you an offer, a personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you if that offer is fair. 

More often than not, the insurance company’s first offer will not be fair. Your attorney will contact the insurance company and negotiate with them on your behalf. They should be able to negotiate a fair settlement but if they can’t, they will be able to represent you if you file a lawsuit. You should bring all the documentation that you have collected when you visit your attorney. Be sure to hire a reputable attorney who can provide you with references.

It is never easy to get over the physical and psychological trauma that an accident can cause. However, if you document your case well and hire a very good personal injury attorney, you should get the money you need to move on with your life.

What Happens If You’re in a Car Accident Driving Out of State?

What Happens If You're in a Car Accident Driving Out of State

Car accidents are stressful events, even more so if you are involved in one while driving out of your own state. It is normal to be scared because you are in a foreign territory, and you might not know what to do.

However, rest assured. Car accident cases usually follow standard procedures that are very similar. You should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Read more here. If you are an Illinois citizen and experienced a car accident driving out of state, or you simply want to know what you should do if you were to deal with such an event, here is what you should consider:

Getting Into a Car Accident in Another State

Probably one of the first questions you might have when you are involved in a car accident outside your own state is if your insurance policy still covers you. However, you should rest assured because, as a U.S. citizen, most auto insurance policies cover all states and even some U.S. territories. You can expect to be covered even in Canadian provinces. That being said, it’s always best to be sure about this before embarking on a trip. A lawyer can help you better understand your insurance policy and what it covers.

As an Illinois citizen, your auto insurance may cover medical bills, legal services, vehicle repairs, and other financial losses. Your coverage limits can be adjusted based on the requirements of the state where you suffered a car accident.

In most instances, if the state where you experienced the car crash has lower liability limits than your home state, your insurance policy might not decrease to meet that state’s minimum. Instead, it might provide you with the maximum coverage on your policy. Contact a lawyer to find out more about your Illinois insurance liability limits.

What State Gets the Final Say?

As a general rule of thumb, the state where the car accident occurred will be the one to have its governing laws imposed on the terms of minimum liability coverage, the statute of limitations, or fault.

If your car accident occurred in a no-fault state, your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) would pay for the injuries regardless of fault, just as it would in your home state. However, Illinois citizens don’t have PIP as an insurance standard. Instead, it is optional coverage. 

Suppose you don’t have PIP coverage as an Illinois citizen experiencing a car accident while driving out of state in a no-fault state. In that case, you need to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is when you will need the help of a skilled car accident attorney who understands the laws governing both states.

If you experience a car accident while driving out of your home state where the no-fault system isn’t used (known as a tort state, such as Illinois), then the at-fault party will be held responsible for your injuries and not your PIP coverage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company must determine how lost wages, medical benefits, and other issues will be paid to you. Still, it’s important to first consult with an attorney to see if you receive a good deal and if you are entitled to other compensations as well.

What Should You Do in an Out of State Car Accident?

Regardless if you are in a no-fault or tort state and experience a car accident, what you do at the accident scene is crucial and will impact your case. Here is what you should do if you are involved in an out-of-state car accident scenario:

Check for Injuries and Alert Authorities

The first thing you should do in an out-of-state car accident is to remain calm and check your injuries and the status of other parties involved in the accident scene. If you cannot call the authorities, ask someone else to do it.

If you can contact authorities, don’t assume that the other drivers will be contacting them since they are in their home state. If someone is seriously injured, don’t try to help them out without assistance from the authorities. Inform the operator of the status of the victims and follow their instructions precisely. You can risk hurting them even more if you act recklessly. 

Having the police and emergency services notified about the accident scene will ensure their arrival and documentation of the accident, which will benefit you later on in your personal injury case. When paramedics arrive at the scene, let them check you up even if you don’t feel hurt. 

Certain injuries don’t manifest themselves right away. You will most likely be pumped up with adrenaline that numbs the pain during an accident, so you shouldn’t act based on how fine you feel. Instead, it’s better to be careful. Having your injuries recorded will help you tremendously in your car accident claim anyway. Don’t turn down medical checkups, even in a foreign state.

Document Everything

Even if you are in a foreign state, you shouldn’t let this fear take hold of you in accepting an unofficial settlement with the at-fault driver. Don’t accept any negotiations and call authorities. You don’t know the true extent of your injuries and damages, and thus neither their actual value.

Whatever you do, do not admit guilt. You should, instead, assess your injuries and the damage by taking pictures of the accident scene, injuries, the vehicles, and the status of the road. Video recording is also a great option and will help you in your car accident claim.

Move your vehicle away from the road if possible to avoid further accidents, turn the engine off, and await the arrival of authorities.

Exchange Information

You should exchange contact information at the accident scene with the other parties involved and eyewitnesses. Again, be very careful about what you say because it can be used against you. The at-fault party may try to persuade you to accept a settlement, especially if they see you aren’t from the same state. 

Whatever they say about the law or other issues, take them with a grain of salt and, instead, wait to discuss them with authorities or legal experts. 

Call Your Insurance Company

You should immediately inform your insurance company about your out-of-state car accident event. They might be able to help you out with tow trucks, cover the expenses, or help you find repair shops.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Lastly, you should consult with an experienced car accident lawyer about your situation. Dealing with an out-of-state car accident can be tricky with all the laws involved. Ask your family to search for an attorney or browse the internet and check out their reviews. 

A car accident attorney can help you receive the best compensation for your injuries, lost wages, trauma, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. Without legal advice by your side, you might not be able to get the best deal for your troubles, even from insurance companies.

A car accident lawyer, on the other hand, has your best interests in mind. You don’t have to pay them anything unless they win your case, but it still differs from law firm to law firm. Lawyers can initiate lawsuits if your compensation isn’t on par with the true extent of your damages and injuries. 

A New Way To Find A Reputable Car Accident Lawyer

A New Way To Find A Reputable Car Accident Lawyer

Suppose you were involved in a car accident and believe you have a case. In that case, you will need to find an attorney to take your case and fight for your rights. But how do you find the right car crash attorney for you?

According to 1-800-Injured in Fort Lauderdale, you should do careful research and choose an attorney with years of proven experience and knowledge handling car accident cases. While you may be reluctant to hire a personal injury attorney for various reasons, not seeking help from an attorney can negatively affect your final settlement. You may even be blamed for the incident. Also, don’t forget that insurance companies are unwilling to pay you your deserved compensation.

How Do You Find a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Finding the right personal injury lawyer is a vital part of obtaining the financial compensation you deserve. In some instances, finding a lawyer you can trust can be challenging. Using the wrong law firm or person to help you with your car accident claim can cause a lot of trouble. So, instead of just choosing a random lawyer, make sure to take the proper steps to find the right one.

In the past, when people were looking for a lawyer, they generally relied on tactics such as flipping through the phone book, trusting word-of-mouth recommendations, or reading articles that mentioned law firms. While these options are still available to the public, they are not always the most efficient or reliable way to search for an attorney.

Today, there are other methods to find a car accident lawyer by conducting online searches or reading review websites. Yet again, these sources are only partially reliable, and they might turn out to be very time-consuming and costly. One reliable method to find a lawyer is to use an attorney referral service.

What is a Lawyer Referral Service?

There is a much better way for the general public to make informed decisions about finding and selecting the ideal personal injury attorney for their case. An attorney referral service revolutionizes, yet simplifies, the traditional way of finding the right attorney.

A lawyer referral service is a resource that assists individuals in finding a lawyer who practices in the appropriate legal field. Basically, it maintains a network of lawyers and connects them with people who need attorneys. If you contact a lawyer referral service, you will be directed to a lawyer suitable for your situation. Based on the facts you gave them, the representative will search the lawyers listed in their database and put you in contact with a lawyer. So, if you have suffered injuries and damages in a car accident, the service will direct you to a car accident lawyer.

A lawyer referral service is also called an attorney-client matching service. You might be matched with one or more lawyers when you contact a service, depending on their legal practice area and geographic location. Sometimes, you get to choose from a list of referred lawyers, or the referral will be made to a specific participating attorney.

Why Should You Choose an Attorney Referral Service?

There are several benefits that an attorney referral service offers over other methods of finding a lawyer. For starters, all attorneys are pre-screened. This means that every attorney registered with a referral service is required to have excellent references, a valid bar license, no serious disciplinary issues, and must be in good standing with the Florida state bar association.

After you’ve found the right match, you can contact the lawyer for a free initial consultation and discuss your car accident case. Moreover, you will be allowed to see detailed information about all prospective lawyers. You can learn about their legal experience, educational history, types of cases they handle, locations served, whether they offer free consultation, and reviews from clients they previously represented.

In addition to these benefits afforded to car accident victims, a lawyer referral service can make it easier for lawyers to find and refer clients to high-quality medical providers and specialists across Florida. That means that when the attorney doesn’t have to track down available specialists and providers, they will focus their energy on providing you with exceptional legal representation. In that way, the personal injury lawyers will have the confidence and comfort to assist you with finding quality options to choose from for your medical needs.

Moreover, there will be no hidden fees, and your privacy is always protected when you disclose your personal information to interested personal injury attorneys.

What to Look For in a Car Accident Attorney?

While most people want to find a knowledgeable attorney specializing in the relevant field of law, most cases require more than one area of specialization. When looking for a car accident attorney, make sure the attorney has considerable experience, especially when your financial stability, health, and future outlook are at stake. After all, you want someone to represent you with the knowledge to help you understand your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

You can assess an attorney’s track record by examining the number of years they have practiced, which can indicate the attorney’s likelihood of reaching a favorable outcome. Finding a personal injury attorney with a proven record of success with car accident cases also increases the possibility that they may obtain similar results for your case.

A good lawyer will ensure that you understand all your legal rights and provide you with all the necessary information. Additionally, look for a lawyer willing to communicate with you whenever you need. If the lawyer cannot answer all your questions during the initial consultations, hides fee information, or takes a lot of time to return your calls or respond to your emails, they may not be the right one to handle your car accident case.

If possible, hire a personal injury lawyer with trial experience. Some personal injury lawyers have never been to trial, regardless of their many years of practice. This is because almost 95% of personal injury cases are settled before trial. With a rate settlement that high, don’t be surprised if a personal injury attorney has never gone to trial.

However, insurance companies are rather aggressive and will do whatever they can to settle your case quickly, especially if they have a lot to lose if your case goes to trial. But if they know your lawyer doesn’t generally go to trial, insurance adjusters will take advantage and make a low settlement offer. Try to find a car accident lawyer ready to go all in and face the jury and judge to get the compensation you deserve.

When contacting an attorney referral service, tell them precisely what you are looking for in a lawyer, and they will find the right match for you and your car accident case. After all, finding a knowledgeable and skilled car accident attorney for your needs is crucial for a solid case and a deserved settlement.

5 Tips for Hiring the RIGHT Personal Injury Attorney

5 Tips for Hiring the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Although personal injury law firms may or may not be certified in their field, their experience and talents may not be of the same caliber. Some may have more experience in one area of personal injury, while others are less specialized and focus on multiple practice areas.

You need to work with a personal injury attorney who is attentive and understands what you are going through. They also need a grasp on the type of injuries you are experiencing and how to hold the other person liable for their negligence. According to Personal Injury Lawyers Fasig | Brooks, here are tips on how to hire the right personal injury attorney.

Personal Injury Experience

Whenever you browse through law firms, you should always make sure that the law firm has proven experience. You need lawyers who focus their practice in personal injury specifically. It is even better if your attorney works specifically on the type of personal injury you are currently dealing with.

You can ask your attorney how many cases they have recently handled regarding your type of case. Also, request how much they’ve won or settled for these cases. This will allow you to gauge their level of success. You can choose whether you should work with this specific law firm based on these results.

They Have a Manageable Case Load

Working with an attorney is like getting a team to support you through your personal injury process. If they have a heavy caseload, it can be hard for them to pay attention to your unique needs. When personal injury attorneys are handling multiple clients, they can make mistakes on your personal injury claim. Evidence may be lacking or not investigated thoroughly because of an overworked attorney.

Your case can suffer due to a lack of attentiveness. For example, your attorney fall behind on deadlines. A good attorney should frequently update you on your personal injury claim and also respond to any inquiries you have in a timely manner.

Good Reputation

Although you might assume that your lawyer passed the bar exam, you should always double-check. You want to be sure that you’re working with a reputable law firm with certified legal professionals. The attorney you choose should have good standing with the local bar and have good reviews from former clients.

High Ethical Standards

When you work with a law firm, you should be absolutely certain they have your best interests at heart. Some law firms aren’t as reputable as you think, and sometimes their legal services are lackluster. For example, you might expect that your attorney is doing their absolute best to make sure your personal injury claim succeeds. Less ethical attorneys may act negligently and cause you unnecessary financial loss. In situations like these, clients often file a lawsuit against their personal injury lawyer.

You can find out if the law firm you’re interested in has a bad reputation by researching their business.

Proven Track Record

Even if your personal injury attorney gets along with you, you need to be sure they can get the job done. Inquire about their experience with your specific personal injury. For example, if you were injured due to medical malpractice, ask them about how they would approach your situation. What their strategy is, how your case will be managed, how much you should expect to see in compensation, and how strong your case is should be shared with you.

If the attorney is knowledgeable and knows how to approach your situation, fielding any of your questions won’t be a problem. Your attorney should be able to show a record of successfully won cases and let you know the total settlements they’ve won over the years. With enough proof that they have handled cases like yours before, you can feel secure that you picked the correct law firm.

Always Work With The Right Personal Injury Attorney

When selecting the right personal injury attorney, you must take your time. It requires research and due diligence, so you don’t make a mistake. Picking the right law firm will prevent you from dealing with delayed responses, missed deadlines, and mishandled information. There will be no mistakes on your personal injury claim when you work with an attentive law firm that cares.

When you work with a reliable attorney, they have multiple resources to help you overcome your difficult situation. For example, they can recommend a doctor who can review your injuries and report on how severe your wounds were. Speak to a law firm today to explore your options in your personal injury claim and find out if they are the right fit for your needs.

The Camp Lejeune Contamination: Can You Sue?

The Camp Lejeune Contamination Can You Sue

By now, stories of the travesty at Camp Lejeune have spread throughout the nation. People across many different states are aware of the unforgivable contamination that took place at this military base, and countless lives have been changed forever. Many family members are still grieving the loss of their loved ones – losses that could have been prevented if things had been handled differently. Perhaps you are just learning about the Camp Lejeune contamination for the first time.

Maybe you are well aware of the contamination, and you are searching for additional answers. Perhaps you have suffered an injury after being exposed to toxic chemicals at this military base, and you are ready to file a lawsuit. Or maybe you have lost a family member, and you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Alert: We have created “The Complete Guide to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits” You can get a general overview in this article, or See the Complete Guide Here.

Whatever the case may be, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you strive for the best possible results. During an initial consultation, your attorney can assess your unique situation and determine the best route forward. From there, you can work toward a fair financial settlement that covers your full range of damages. These might include medical expenses, missed wages, psychological trauma, funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and many others. Due to the statute of limitations, it always makes sense to book your consultation as soon as possible. If you delay for too long, you may lose the opportunity to sue altogether.

What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

While there is plenty of news about Camp Lejeune lawsuits, it is surprisingly difficult to find out what actually happened at this military installation. Over more than 30 years, from 1953 to 1988, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune exposed its soldiers to extremely toxic water. In fact, the water contained 280 times the standard safety limits for known carcinogens. Not only did the soldiers drink the water on a regular basis, but they also bathed in it and cooked with it constantly. Even though the Navy set out strict water supply standards prior to the exposure, these guidelines were completely ignored by high-ranking staff at Camp Lejeune.

These chemicals included:

  • Industrial solvents
  • Benzene (a known carcinogen)
  • PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene)
  • TCE (trichloroethylene)
  • TCE degradation products trans-1,2-DCE (t-1,2-dichloroethylene)
  • Vinyl chloride

So, where did all these chemicals come from? According to the CDC, the main source of the contamination was a company called ABC One-Hour Cleaners – an off-base dry cleaning operation that was dumping its waste near the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant. The Hadnot Point water treatment plant was also contaminated by TCE degradation products. These degradation products were tracked to several sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites.

Both of these water treatment plants were reportedly shut down in 1985 – but by that time, the damage had already been done. The CDC lists several potential adverse medical effects of the contamination, including:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Leukemia
  • Adverse birth outcomes
  • Aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fetal death
  • Eye defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Chronal atresia
  • Major malformations
  • Miscarriage
  • Neural tube defects
  • Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Impaired immune system function
  • Neurological effects
  • Severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder

In addition, the US Department of Veterans Affairs lists a number of “qualifying health conditions” for those seeking compensation, including:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Lung cancer
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects

Simply listing medical conditions and chemicals does not paint the full story. A much more personal account was described by one family member in an article published in MarineTimes. This article described how the author (a retired Master Sgt.) had lost his daughter due to the toxic water in Camp Lejeune. During his 12-year stay at the camp, he conceived a daughter. The mother also lived there and consumed the toxic water without realizing it during her pregnancy. The child only reached the age of nine before she died of leukemia. The author stresses that there is no family history of cancer in either the mother or the father, and the assumption is that the death must have been caused by Camp Lejeune’s toxic water.

The author goes on to say that his daughter’s passing was never acknowledged by the US government or military – and his family has never been compensated. Recently, a 2016 court opinion prevented affected families from taking legal action, with the government relying on sovereign immunity to shield themselves from lawsuits. This was despite the fact that the DHHS openly acknowledged the fact that the toxic water increased the risk of cancer and other health issues.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (PACTA Act)

On August 10th, President Joe Biden signed the PACTA Act into law. This veterans’ healthcare and benefits bill also contained the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which finally removed legal roadblocks for families and service members who had been harmed by the toxic water. Almost immediately, 5,000 claims were filed – and some believe that this could represent the largest mass litigation in US history. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act specifically provides an exception to sovereign immunity, allowing plaintiffs to file their claims through the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The main takeaway is that injured veterans are set to receive billions of dollars in compensation for various issues. $300 billion has been set aside for things like burn pit smoke in Afghanistan, Agent Orange in Vietnam, and of course, toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of injured soldiers are also suing 3M for deficient earplugs – but the Camp Lejuene mass tort could go even further. In fact, the DHHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry believes that as many as one million people were affected by the toxic water, and some attorneys attached to the litigation believe 500,000 people could eventually decide to file claims. If this is true, the Camp Lejeune mass tort will indeed outdo the 3M lawsuit.

But what are the details of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act? It lays out a number of circumstances that must be present before you can file a claim. First of all, you need to have lived in the area during a period stretching from 1953 to 1988. As you may know, the base itself is close to Jacksonville. However, those who lived in Jacksonville during this period are not eligible for compensation. The affected area ranges from Camp Lejeune Greater Sandy Run in the west to Holcomb Boulevard and the Camp Lejeune Military Reservation in the East.

The southernmost affected areas are Onslow Beach and Stone Bay Rifle Range, while the northernmost affected areas are Camp Geiger, Camp Johnson, and Tarawa Terrace. If you served in the camp, you probably spent time in many of the affected areas. A map is available here. While most of the people filing claims will be past or present US military service members, you may also sue if you were simply living near the affected area without being connected to the military.

Another condition is that you can only file your lawsuit within a two-year period. This means that it is important to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you have been affected by this travesty. This two-year period is often referred to as a “lookback window,” and once it expires, you will lose the right to file a claim.

If you want to file a claim through the VA for disability benefits, you must have served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days. Alternatively, you can file a claim if you served for 30 cumulative days at MCAS New River. In addition, you can only file a claim through the VA if you did not receive a dishonorable discharge. Veterans, reservists, and guardsmen are all covered under the VA. That being said, it is worth noting that filing a claim for VA disability benefits is not the same as filing a claim against the US government.

Another crucial detail is that you can still file for compensation even if you have already received health benefits from the Veterans Administration in connection with chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune. Even though your medical bills may have been paid, you can still receive compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, loss of quality of life, or pain and suffering.

Past Issues With Camp Lejeune Claims

Even though this mass tort has the potential to become the largest of its kind in US history, this does not mean that the process will be smooth. In fact, past experiences tell us that affected individuals may experience considerable issues as they attempt to get compensation for their injuries at Camp Lejeune. People have been filing claims with the VA since approximately 2012, and many of these individuals have experienced notable roadblocks along the way.

According to the Marine Corps Times, there is a real chance that injured individuals may “never see a dime.” A representative from Disabled American Veterans warned that individuals should do their fair share of research before filing a lawsuit to avoid unnecessary legal costs. Many advocates are cautious, promoting a “wait and see” approach as the VA goes through 150 pages of legislation and publishes new regulations. We’re still not quite sure whether veterans who win these lawsuits will lose their existing disability and health care benefits with the VA. Some have pointed out that when you add attorney fees into the mix, this could result in a net loss that outweighs any potential gain.

Of course, you can discuss these concerns alongside a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney before you take legal action. The best lawyers are honest and impartial, providing legal advice that genuinely serves your best interests. The good news is that the VA has publicly stated that it will not deny your pending disability claims or cut you off from existing services if you simply file a lawsuit related to the Lejeune Justice Act. What happens if you win? That’s another question altogether, and the VA recently announced that:

“Any award must be offset by the amounts of VA benefits provided in connection with health care or disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.”

Remember, your lawsuit could take years to complete. Assuming you win your lawsuit, you may only start receiving payments by 2024. Of course, these are all topics you can discuss with your lawyer, who can help you weigh up the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit. One thing’s for sure: the potential payout from a successful lawsuit can certainly outweigh any financial assistance you are currently receiving from the VA or any other government agency.

Another major issue involves the mishandling of Lejeune water claims by the VA, which reportedly resulted in $14 million of lost compensation for victims. According to Military.com, the Department of Veterans Affairs mishandled a staggering 40% of all disability claims filed in relation to contaminated water issues at Camp Lejeune. This not only resulted in financial losses but also delayed benefits for those who were desperately waiting for assistance.

Apparently, the VA simply flat-out denied 17,200 claims without explaining why. The organization also failed to ask for additional information. Another 2,300 veterans failed to receive compensation because they were assigned incorrect dates, resulting in a total of $14 million in denied retroactive payments. 1,500 additional claims were denied due to unspecified “technical issues.”

These worrying developments highlight the need to work with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney as you approach your claim. With help from one of these legal professionals, you can overcome any hurdles you may face and get ahold of your compensation without unnecessary delays.

What Kind of Evidence Do I Need When Filing My Camp Lejeune Claim?

If you are serious about filing a lawsuit for medical issues related to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, you will need to gather evidence. First of all, you will need to prove that you were actually stationed at the base during the period of contamination. The most obvious choice is to provide your military records, which will clearly prove that you were indeed living on MCAS New River or Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination.

The second requirement is to prove that you actually suffered an injury that can be attributed to the toxic water at the camp. This step is perhaps a little more difficult, as it requires you to establish a causal link between your injury and your exposure to the toxic water. This becomes increasingly difficult if many years have passed. In other words, simply living on the base during a time of toxic contamination may not be enough. You will also need to provide medical records showing that you suffered an injury.

And it cannot be just any injury, either. It must be related to the specific chemicals found in the water supply. These may include the range of cancers and other illnesses listed earlier in this article.

If you are filing on behalf of a deceased loved one, locating these medical records could be a challenge. Things would be even more difficult if your loved one refused medical treatment, as it then becomes challenging to link their passing to their time at the camp.

If you are unsure of what kind of evidence you need, the VA requirements represent a solid reference point. If you have the necessary evidence to successfully file a claim with the VA for your exposure to the contaminated water, you will likely have enough evidence to file (and win) a lawsuit. Of course, your attorney can certainly help you locate, compile, and present the necessary evidence as you pursue legal action.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney, look no further than National Security Law Firm. We know that exposure to toxic chemicals can cause tragic, life-altering, and terrible injuries.

We’re ready to help you fight for your rights. Make no mistake – you are fully entitled to fight for your rights and pursue a fair, adequate level of compensation for everything you’ve been forced to endure. While internet research may be a positive first step, it cannot replace real, targeted advice from a qualified lawyer. Book your consultation today, and we can get you started with an effective action plan right away.

Sources

  1. https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/
  2. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/
  3. https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/camp-lejeune-water-contamination-claims-total-about-5000-so-far-us-navy-says-2022-09-12/
  4. https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2022/08/18/dont-expect-quick-payouts-from-camp-lejeune-water-lawsuits/
  5. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/08/26/veterans-were-denied-14-million-payments-because-va-mishandled-lejeune-water-claims.html

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