Existing for over three decades, the water contamination at Camp Lejeune has exposed as many as 1,000,000 veterans, their family members, and civilians to serious health risks. Among these risks include several presumed neurobehavioral effects, damaging how the nervous system works and leading to a range of emotional, behavioral, and learning problems.
If you’ve served or been stationed at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River from the 1950s to the early 1980s — and been diagnosed with an associated neurobehavioral condition — you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the federal government or claim VA benefits with the help of a personal injury attorney.
The History of Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base located in North Carolina. For years, the base’s water supply wells were contaminated with various toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. Marines, their family members, and civilian employees used the contaminated water daily for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Despite learning about the toxic water in 1980, Marine Corps leadership waited until 1985 to shut down the contaminated wells.
As a result of this persistent exposure, countless people would later go on to be diagnosed with cancer, multiple myeloma, and several other chronic health issues.
Of those affected, many have also been diagnosed with neurobehavioral conditions.
What Are Neurobehavioral Effects?
According to the National Institutes of Health, neurobehavioral effects are defined as conditions that have to do with the way that the brain communicates with the nervous system. These effects often manifest as behavioral, physical, or learning issues.
Illness, brain injury, and exposure to dangerous toxins — like the chemicals found in the Camp Lejeune drinking water — can cause neurological effects. The symptoms of such effects are determined by how much damage the brain has sustained.
People diagnosed with neurobehavioral effects often report experiencing changes in personality, mood, attention, and memory. Other neurological effects can lead to motor dysfunction, including issues with coordination and balance.
Certain damaging chemicals can significantly impair the part of the brain that controls motor function, causing tremors, ticks, and even Parkinson’s disease.
The most common symptoms of neurological effects include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Learning disorders
- Memory impairment
- Motor issues
- Parkinson’s disease
- Poor concentration
After being exposed to toxic chemicals, neurobehavioral effects can last anywhere from a few minutes to several years. While mild effects from low levels of chemicals and short exposure can be reversible, long-term exposure to high levels of toxins may be permanent.
The Link Between Neurobehavioral Effects and Camp Lejeune
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both linked the toxic chemicals found at Camp Lejeune to neurobehavioral effects. In fact, the VA provides health and compensation benefits to those who suffered from neurological effects after being stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.
Today, research is currently expanding on the intensity of the impact of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination on the brain.
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), long-term exposure to even low levels of trichloroethylene — one of the main contaminants at Camp Lejeune — was found to be associated with neurobehavioral deficits.
On average, active duty personnel was stationed at the camp for 18 months.
Findings from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have also contributed to current implications on the link between Camp Lejune’s contaminated water and neurobehavioral effects. Based on the positive trends of increased risks from occupational and drinking water exposures, the NRC has agreed that neurobehavioral effects, specifically Parkinson’s disease, should be included and covered by VA benefits.
What to Do If You’re Experiencing Neurobehavioral Effects
If you have symptoms of neurobehavioral effects after being exposed to contaminated Camp Lejeune water, it’s important that you visit a doctor to discuss your treatment options. To be eligible for a VA benefits claim and receive compensation for medical expenses, you must provide evidence of your official diagnosis.
In addition to VA benefits, you may also recover any damages faced with a Camp Lejeune lawsuit against the federal government. Provided by the Camp Lejeune Act of 2022, this federal restitution includes a lump-sum payment to eligible veterans and health care benefits for those suffering from certain illnesses that have been linked to the contamination.
To be eligible for a lawsuit, claimants must show that they were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the relevant period and that they suffered one of the 14 illnesses in the Act. Victims of water exposure have up to two years to file from the date of the law’s enactment.
If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria, you can make the first step towards justice by reaching out to a qualified attorney who can help you get started on your contaminated water claim.
How the Leav & Steinberg Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
After suffering from neurological effects caused by Camp Lejeune, you deserve legal counsel dedicated to ensuring that you receive full restitution for your hardship. The team at Leav & Steinberg has over 17 years of combined experience and can help you navigate your legal options and receive long-awaited justice.
Whether you’re interested in filing a disability claim or a federal lawsuit, our personal injury attorneys will work with you to recover maximum financial compensation. If you’ve previously applied for VA benefits and have been denied, our team can also help file an appeal on your behalf.
Contact a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer
At Leav & Steinberg, our law firm is committed to serving the veterans who serve our nation. If you’re experiencing neurological effects from Camp Lejeune water exposure, the time to receive full restitution from the federal government is now.
To speak with a Camp Lejeune lawyer about your case, request a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys in New York, NY today.