For more than three decades, from 1953 to 1987, the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with dangerous, volatile chemicals linked with numerous health problems. Some of these health problems include birth defects in children born after exposure to the chemicals in utero. If you were pregnant at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base, or if you were born on base, you may have a valid Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuit.
At Reich & Binstock, we are currently investigating Camp Lejeune birth defect claims for those who were pregnant or born at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022 allows those affected by the contaminated drinking water to file claims for compensation. A toxic tort lawyer with our firm will investigate the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action. To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
What Is a Birth Defect?
According to the CDC, birth defects are “structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body.” Although they are fairly common, affecting 1 in every 33 babies born yearly in the United States, many birth defects are very severe. They can affect how a body part looks, functions, or both. In extreme cases, they may even shorten one’s lifespan.
Exposure to the volatile organic compounds in the Camp Lejeune water during pregnancy has been linked to certain birth defects, as well as miscarriages and even infertility. Additionally, a study conducted by the CDC has found that children born at the base during the contamination period were more than 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with childhood cancer.
Most Common Birth Defects
Some of the most common categories of birth defects affect the brain, spine, eyes, heart, mouth, face, intestines, stomach, genes, bones, and muscles. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, the most common birth defects are as follows.
- Spina bifida
- Oral cleft defects
- Cardiac defects
- Down syndrome
Birth Defects and Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
During the period of Camp Lejeune water contamination, many parents suffered devastating losses of their children and babies due to serious birth defects. Those who did not lose their children often juggled expenses from extensive medical treatments over their child’s lifetime. Parents and children affected by the toxic substances in the Camp Lejeune water have the right to file birth defect lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
Along with birth defects and childhood cancers, many parents struggled with infertility and miscarriages at Camp Lejeune. These issues have been linked to the contaminated drinking water at the Marine Corps base. If you are a parent of an affected child, or if you were a child affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination, you may have a valid claim.
How Did the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Happen?
The contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was full of toxic chemicals for more than three decades. But how did this contamination occur, and why did it continue for so long? Camp Lejeune victims were exposed to certain volatile organic compounds, such as vinyl chloride, benzene, PCE, and TCE.
Some of the sources of the Camp Lejeune water contamination include leaking storage tanks, poor waste disposal practices, chemical spills, and other sources. Over time, more than one million people were put at risk of health issues linked to the Camp Lejeune water. The recent Camp Lejeune legislation aims to compensate victims for their losses, as well as hold the federal government accountable for failing to address the problem sooner.
What Are Birth Defects Associated with the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Exposure to the Camp Lejeune water increased children’s risks of birth defects, neural tube defects, and certain childhood cancers. Many of these children also developed serious medical conditions later in life. Below, we outline some of the most common complications and conditions linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Spina bifida is a type of birth defect that results from the malformation of the spine and spinal cord. It is also one of the most common types of neural tube defects. When a baby has spina bifida, part of their neural tube (which eventually develops into the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues) fails to close or develop properly. This leads to serious problems with the spinal bones and the spinal cord. Depending on several factors, spina bifida can be mild or very severe.
Although it is possible to treat this condition early, even surgery doesn’t always fix the issue. There are three main forms of spina bifida, including spina bifida occulta, myelomeningocele, and meningocele.
- Spina bifida occulta: This is the mildest form of spina bifida, as well as the most common. Many people with this condition are unaware of it, as it generally produces no signs or symptoms. This is because the spinal nerves are unaffected.
- Myelomeningocele: This is also referred to as open spina bifida. It is the most severe form of the condition. Along multiple vertebrae in the middle or lower back, the spinal canal is open. During birth, the spinal nerves are pushed through this opening, which causes a sac to form on the baby’s back. This leads to the exposure of nerves and other tissues. Myelomeningocele often results in infection risks, paralysis, bowel dysfunction, and bladder dysfunction.
- Meningocele: This is a rare form of spina bifida in which a sac of spinal fluid bulges through an opening in the spine. Spinal nerves are not affected by this condition, but babies born with this condition may still experience bladder and bowel problems.
Neural Tube Birth Defects
The neural tube is a structure in developing babies that eventually becomes the brain, spinal cord, spine, and surrounding tissues. In many cases, these issues develop during the first month of pregnancy. Many women do not even know they are pregnant when the neural tube birth defects are identified. The two most common forms of neural tube birth defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. When a baby has anencephaly, most of its brain and skull do not develop. Babies born with this condition are often stillborn, or they die soon after birth.
Oral Cleft Palate
Oral cleft defects can affect the lip and the roof of the mouth (the palate). These birth defects can occur between the fourth and ninth weeks of pregnancy, depending on the specific defect. When a baby develops, the tissue and cells from the sides of their head are supposed to grow toward the center of their face to form the face fully. A baby with oral clefts, specifically a cleft lip, will have tissue that does not fully join to make the lip. This leaves an opening in the lip ranging from a small slit to a large slit that travels up to the nostril. Children with a cleft lip may also have a cleft palate.
When the tissue that forms the roof of the mouth does not join properly, this is referred to as a cleft palate. Depending on the severity of the condition, a baby may have a completely open palate or a partial cleft palate. Children with oral clefts often have problems with speaking, eating, ear infections, hearing, and even dental issues.
- Childhood leukemia
- Brain cancer
- Adverse birth outcomes
- Other forms of childhood cancer
- Fetal death
- Immune system disorders
- Congenital malfunctions
Can I Seek Compensation for Camp Lejeune Birth Defects?
Yes. If you gave birth to a child or you were born with a birth defect after exposure to the toxic substances in the Camp Lejeune water, you may be entitled to compensation. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows victims to seek compensation for the harm they suffered as a result of the contaminated water. You may be eligible for a Camp Lejeune birth defect lawsuit if you meet the following requirements.
- You lived or worked at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.
- Either consecutively or non-consecutively, you were on base for at least 30 total days.
- You or your child developed a birth defect or other health condition as a result in utero exposure to the contaminated water.
Remember that, even if your child passed away decades ago because of their condition, you still have the right to file a Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuit. The deadline for victims to file Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuits is August 10, 2024. We strongly recommend speaking with a Camp Lejeune lawyer as soon as possible to start your claim. Keep in mind that the Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout per person can vary, so we recommend speaking with an attorney as soon as possible.
Settlement Amounts for a Camp Lejeune Birth Defect Lawsuit
It is extremely difficult to estimate the value of Camp Lejeune birth defect lawsuits without evaluating the specific facts of your case. When you schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, we will investigate your claim, help you gather all the evidence you need, and litigate on your behalf if necessary. We believe these cases have the potential for high settlement amounts, so we strongly encourage you to seek legal counsel. These Camp Lejeune claims may qualify for compensation for the following damages.
- Permanent disability
- Past, present and future medical expenses
- Wrongful death
- Pain and suffering of both the parents and the child
- Lost income
Do I Need an Attorney for My Camp Lejeune Birth Defect Claim?
Although you are not required to hire an attorney for your case, we recommend at least schedule a free consultation. These cases have the potential to be extremely complicated, and you’ll need extensive medical evidence and documentation to prove your case. Having experienced personal injury lawyers on your side could mean the difference between getting compensation and walking away empty-handed. Don’t wait to contact the attorneys at Reich & Binstock about your Camp Lejeune lawsuit. We have the experience and knowledge you need to file a lawsuit in pursuit of fair compensation.
Contact the Camp Lejeune Lawyers at Reich & Binstock
If you or your child suffered harm as a result of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may have a valid claim. Reich & Binstock has the toxic tort experience you need for your case. We have handled countless claims involving toxic exposure, so we have the skills you need to pursue compensation for your losses. To schedule a free consultation with us, please contact our office at 713-622-7271 today.