Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would place a limit on the fees that attorneys could collect representing Camp Lejeune plaintiffs. Numerous television and radio legal advertisements seeking plaintiffs allegedly harmed by contaminated water at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp in North Carolina have raised concern that veterans and their family members could be exploited by unscrupulous law firms.
However, according to news station WNCT in Jacksonville, NC, located approximately 19 miles from Camp Lejeune, some survivors of the contamination are concerned that imposing harsh caps on attorneys fees could dissuade honest, competent attorneys from assisting plaintiffs in filing claims and receiving fair compensation.
While some bills have placed a 20% to 33% limit on attorneys fees, other bills have set the cap as low as 2% to 10%. While Camp Lejeune plaintiffs and advocates agree that fees set between 40% to 60% are predatory and exploitative, many realize that attorneys need financial incentives to represent their clients.
This is enhanced because many personal injury cases like Camp Lejeune are handled on a contingency basis. Under the contingency system, the up-front costs for litigation are absorbed by the law firm in exchange for a proportion of the eventual payout. Typical contingency fees are between 30% and 40% of the eventual settlement.
Another concern about setting very low cap fees is that if an attorney, in order to prove a claim, has to pay for studies—which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—it would become cost prohibitive. If this scenario were to play out, attorneys would have to drop their clients, harming both the attorney and the potential plaintiffs.
Approximately 20,000 Camp Lejeune claims have been filed. With the August 2022 Congressional passage of the Honoring our PACT Act, Veterans Administration (VA) health care and benefits were greatly expanded for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances in burn pits overseas as well as contaminated water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune.
The PACT Act also paved the way for veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from 1953 to 1987 to sue the federal government for exposure to toxic water. Prior to the passage of the Pact Act, the U.S. government was shielded from litigation under so-called “qualified immunity defenses.”
Camp Lejeune plaintiffs have a two-year window to file a lawsuit. Plaintiffs must give notice to the U.S. Department of Navy of their intention to file a claim and wait a minimum of six months before filing their complaint.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans must have been diagnosed with at least one of the following illnesses to receive Camp Lejeune disability compensation:
- Adult leukemia.
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
- Bladder cancer.
- Kidney cancer.
- Liver cancer.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
- Parkinson's disease.
Qualifying individuals diagnosed with these life-changing conditions are filing lawsuits to claim compensation for the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of medical fees.
If you have been diagnosed with a life-changing illness after being exposed at Camp Lejeune, you may be able to file a free consultation to explore your legal options.