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Q: When is the Deadline For PACT Act Claims and Lawsuits over Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The window is closing for military veterans, families and others to file administrative claims and lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which provides compensation for harm linked to the contaminated water supply at the North Carolina base from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Those who believe they were affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have until Aug. 10 to file claims or lawsuits against the U.S. government.

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However, veterans should be aware that any benefits they’ve already received related to the exposure, such as from the Department of Veteran Affairs, may count against their settlement or award (though not necessarily), and attorneys may charge as much as 25% of the award amount.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act — another name for Section 804 of the PACT Act — became law in 2022. The PACT Act, short for the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, provides compensation and medical benefits for injuries and illnesses that may have resulted from toxic exposures connected to military service.

The PACT Act presumes that certain medical conditions are service-connected as long as the service member in question served in a certain place at a certain time.

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The section of the PACT Act that addresses Camp Lejeune claims and lawsuits, however, requires a greater burden of proof than other instances of toxic exposure. But the Navy and Justice Department created an alternative to litigation, called the “elective option,” that presumes a connection.

To qualify for a settlement, a lawsuit or claim must be filed within two years of the enactment of the PACT Act, hence the Aug. 10 deadline.

Those filing a claim who use the elective option and qualify will receive settlements calculated according to a formula. Those whose claims are denied or delayed — or whose illness isn’t on the list — and who instead file a lawsuit face a greater burden of proof showing that the water contamination likely led to their illness.