My Father Died After Being at Camp Lejeune. How Can I File a Claim?

Did your parent, child, or another relative suffer fatal exposure to toxic water at the Camp Lejeune military base during their military service? If so, you may be able to recover compensation on their behalf through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021.

Contaminants in the Camp Lejeune Military Base’s Water Supply

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that two water wells located at the Camp Lejeune military base were contaminated with the harmful chemicals trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, vinyl chloride, perchloroethylene (PCE), and various other deadly chemical compounds. It is well known that these chemicals cause a number of potentially fatal diseases, including:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Miscarriage or female infertility
  • Lung cancer
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Adult leukemia 
  • Liver cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provides exposed victims with the opportunity to obtain appropriate relief for harm. Though, this action is available only to individuals who were exposed to contaminated water for at least 30 days. Thousands are currently taking advantage of this opportunity, with The Lawsuit Information Center reporting:

“Over 8,000 Camp Lejeune water contamination claims have already been filed. Our attorneys hear conflicting estimates of how many Camp Lejeune victims have signed retainers from other Camp Lejeune attorneys. Those estimates range from 75,000 to 110,000 Camp Lejeune victims that have already signed retainers with lawyers.”

Of these, several thousand are likely wrongful death lawsuits claimed by surviving relatives of Camp Lejeune contaminated water victims. The CLJA requires such lawsuits to be brought by the estate of the deceased victim, via the executor of the estate. Anyone can technically be the executor of an estate, though some opt to have a lawyer take on the role. 

Was Your Family Member Fatally Exposed at Camp Lejeune?

Thousands of active duty members of the military suffered exposure to the toxic compounds in Camp Lejeune’s water supply. Many military families and on-base civilian personnel were also exposed. If they suffered negative health consequences related to their exposure, all victims are eligible to claim compensation for their contaminated water-related illnesses. 

Unfortunately, many victims did not survive until this point. So, they are unable to claim the compensation they were rightfully due. Worse yet, many of these deceased Camp Lejeune inhabitants were burdened greatly by the financial costs of treating their contaminated water-related illnesses. 

For those who had families relying on them, the financial consequences of contracting a fatal illness from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water were likely devastating. Luckily, the CLJA provides family members with the opportunity to claim compensation on behalf of their deceased loved one. The process required to do so varies depending on the individual circumstances of each claim and the state the claim will be filed from. 

Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims

In North Carolina, where Camp Lejeune cases will be litigated, wrongful death claims for Camp Lejeune injuries can only be brought by close family members if the family member is the personal representative of their deceased relative’s estate. If your family member died, only the estate can make a claim for compensation on their behalf. Any settlement proceeds from a wrongful death claim get disbursed to the heirs of the decedent, similar to other assets of the estate.

Compensation for Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims

North Carolina wrongful death claims can result in compensation for:

  • medical expenses
  • pain & suffering of the decedent
  • loss of the decedent’s income, personal services and companionship, and
  • funeral expenses

Punitive damages may also be allowed if the death was the result of “malice or willful wanton conduct.”

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim as the Surviving Spouse, Child, or Other Relative of a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Victim

To file a Camp Lejeune wrongful death suit, prospective claimants must first be appointed as the personal representative of their deceased relative’s estate. To do so, they need to file with their local probate court to be appointed as the administrator or executor of the estate in question. If there is already an executor appointed, you can petition to have them replaced. 

This may or may not be necessary, as you could also just have the current executor cooperate with the Camp Lejeune wrongful death claim process. If this is not possible, work with your state’s probate courts to have yourself, an attorney or another loved one appointed as executor of the decedent’s estate. This may take a long time, but once the process is complete, you can seek compensation on behalf of your deceased loved one.  

Who is Eligible to Open an Estate?

If there is a will available, the executor named in the will should be responsible for opening the estate. If the will does not name a specific executor, then someone qualified under the local succession laws may be named. If you wish to be considered for this role, you must be granted letters of testamentary or letters of administration. These are legal documents that the Clerk of Court provides. With them, you gain the authority to act as the representative of an estate. 

How to Open an Estate Without an Attorney

To open an estate for a deceased relative, you must be granted authority by the government entity that presides over the estate you wish to administer. This can be done with or without an attorney, though having an attorney will make the process much easier. If you cannot afford an attorney, opening an estate simply requires asking the court to appoint you as the personal representative or executor of the estate.

First, obtain the proper form from your local court clerk’s office. This form varies from state to state. You may also need to verify the form with a notary public after filling it out. Once it is completely prepared, submit the form to the court clerk’s office. Once you have opened the estate, you may also be required to complete additional steps, such as giving notice to creditors, taking inventory of the estate, and paying off any debts or taxes.

Need a Camp Lejeune Probate Lawyer?

If you are not currently in talks with a Camp Lejeune lawyer due to the fact that you cannot file unless you are the executor of your deceased loved one’s estate, you need to get in touch with a probate lawyer as soon as possible. After you have the estate placed under your control, you will be free to file for compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one.