The contaminated waters at Camp Lejeune have adversely affected people living and working in that region. On August 10, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was enforced to help victims file their claims and seek compensation for the damages they had to endure during their stay at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987.
However, the settlement process faced enormous delays, which disappointed the veterans and their relatives. Since many of the victims were senior citizens, they felt that they wouldn’t get the justice they deserved during their lifetime.
On September 6, 2023, the Department of Navy and the Department of Justice declared the “Elective Option” (EO). Under this option, the claimants will have a channel to resolve the claims faster under the CLJA. All the other options are still applicable, and the new Elective Option is considered a supplement.
In this article, we will discuss the Elective Option and its pros and cons for expediting the settlement process.
The Need for Elective Option
The moment the Camp Lejeune claims process was enforced, the U.S. Navy had six months to respond to the claims, either denying or settling them. However, it was evident that it was tough to meet the deadline. The government failed to settle the claims that they received within the initial six months after the CLJA was enacted.
According to a recent Camp Lejeune lawsuit update, claimants can file a legal complaint when the government provides an inadequate settlement amount, doesn’t respond, or denies the claim altogether. Today, over 90,000 people have filed their claims, but no one is getting the payouts they deserve. This delay has naturally resulted in frustration among lawmakers and victims. A few of them had demanded justification from the federal government for the delay.
As a result, people who have suffered from getting exposed to the toxic waters at Camp Lejeune needed to get compensated quickly. The Elective Option seems to be a remedy to that issue.
Understanding the Elective Option
Simply put, the Elective Option offers a structure to the Department of Navy to solve the CLJA claims for the ones who got exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune with specific ailments faster. To qualify for the same, the claimant needs to provide an administrative claim to the Department of Navy.
This settlement option makes settlement offers to the claimants who have suffered from ailments mentioned in the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), linked with the toxic chemicals found in the polluted waters at Camp Lejeune.
The injuries eligible for settlement under the EO include:
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Systemic sclerosis/scleroderma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
The Elective Option: Pros
There are several advantages to the EO for claimants, such as:
Expedites the Process
Several veterans who had filed their Camp Lejeune claims suffered from severe ailments that reduced their lifespans. There were situations where the victims fell terminally ill with a very short life span. If a person wants to get their settlement amount before they lose their life, this option is beneficial.
Less Challenging to Prove Cases
Some veterans diagnosed with a qualifying ailment might have spent about 30 days at Camp Lejeune. There is scope for the government to argue about various other factors that resulted in the ailment when the case gets presented to the court. The Elective Option ensures that you qualify for compensation without any such hassles.
If a veteran was residing at Camp Lejeune for over 30 days between 1953 and 1987 and received the qualifying diagnosis later, they qualify for the Elective Option. This process needs very little evidence compared to a lawsuit and is much more effective.
The Elective Option: Cons
Similar to everything else, even the EO has its consequences along with its benefits. The main drawbacks include:
You Can’t File a Complaint
The objective of the Elective Option is to lessen the court’s burden. That means veterans opting for this option will not be able to file a lawsuit and sue the government. At times, victims might regret missing out on this option when they realize they might attain more cash in court.
The victims can ask to get compensated for suffering, pain, lost wages, and various other losses in court. The same is not applicable under EO.
Several Qualifying Diseases
There are times when veterans suffer from more than a single qualifying ailment after getting exposed to the toxic waters at Camp Lejeune. In the EO, they will receive payment for a single disease they have suffered from. It is mostly the ailment that has the maximum compensation. In such a situation, a lawsuit might be a better option, which guarantees a better outcome.
Capped Settlement Amount
Even though a quicker payment might appear attractive to several Camp Lejeune survivors, chances are the lawsuit payouts are higher. Also, no one still knows how the EO will shape out in the future and whether it will address the pain points of the victims.
Hence, if you are not in a hurry to receive your settlement payout and want to get compensated correctly, filing a lawsuit seems to be a wise decision.
TorHoerman Law states that getting in touch with a lawyer helps you understand how to navigate the legal process. Victims should gather all evidence in terms of medical bills, travel records, and healthcare information and share it with their lawyers so they can create a compelling case and present it in court. It will ensure that the verdict is in the victim’s favor, whereby they get the compensation they deserve.
By now, everyone is aware of the ailments caused by the toxic waters at Camp Lejeune and the delays in sanctioning settlement payouts. Keeping in mind the delays, the Elective Option has been issued to help victims get immediate monetary help if they qualify for it. However, it is necessary to know the pros and cons of the same before you decide to opt in for it.
Victims who feel that their time is running out can opt-in for the Elective Option and get compensated. But the ones who feel they deserve and might receive more compensation with the help of an expert lawyer should file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.