The surge in fraudulent activities surrounding the CLJA (Camp Lejeune Justice Act) claims and related lawsuits have raised serious concerns. The warning issued by the United States Navy about these scams alerts claimants to exercise caution and make informed decisions.
This blog aims to shed light on the emergence of these fraudulent practices and guide how to navigate the process.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Origins of CLJA Claims
Camp Lejeune, a US Marine Corps base in North Carolina, has been the subject of a major environmental health controversy. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, military personnel and their families were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water, leading to severe health problems in the future.
This situation prompted the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, encouraging affected individuals to file claims for their suffering.
Settlement Distribution and Payment Amounts
To better understand the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit and CLJA claims, consider the financial aspects outlined by the CBO. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has set aside $6.7 billion for settlements and related legal expenses. This allocation of funds emphasizes the gravity and scope of the health crisis experienced by those at Camp Lejeune.
Settlements for the victims are expected to range between $25,000 and $1 million. This variation is not arbitrary. It is based on a tiered system. A claimant’s ability to validate a direct link between their medical condition and Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water is necessary.
As of now, the process of compensating victims has become gradual. Only eight people have been compensated so far, with a total payout of $2.05 million. This figure, while a start, is a small fraction of the projected budget. Many more claims are being evaluated or are yet to be filed.
The Rise in Fraudulent Activities
Against this backdrop of financial settlement and the slow pace of compensation, we observe a rising tide of fraudulent activities.
Scammers, posing as legal or medical professionals, are misleading veterans and their families with false promises. They offer quicker claim processing or guaranteed compensation in exchange for personal information or for a fee. These acts prey on those affected during the contamination window at Camp Lejeune, exploiting their need for assistance and compensation. The main tactics include fraudulent emails and phone calls designed to trick claimants.
The AARP discovered that about two-thirds of military personnel are unaware of the no-cost assistance available for PACT Act claim filings. This lack of awareness leaves veterans susceptible to scammers’ predatory strategies.
Roughly one out of every six veterans reported receiving calls offering help with PACT Act claims. Fraudsters often involve individuals falsely claiming to represent the VA. Such calls are deceptive, signaling potential fraud. The VA has informed AARP that it only contacts veterans for additional details on active claims.
Warning Issued by the United States Navy
The US Navy, along with the Justice Department, emphasizes the importance of protecting personal information. They also warn claimants to be wary of unsolicited offers of assistance regarding the Camp Lejeune cases. This warning is an important reminder for potential claimants to seek information from credible sources.
With nearly 150,000 people seeking compensation for wrongful deaths linked to the base’s contaminated water, vigilance is urged. The Navy and Justice Department stress that they will never ask for money or payment from those filing claims.
Official communication from the Navy comes from the email address CLClaims@us.navy.mil. They recommend that communications deemed suspicious be verified through legal representation or directly with the Navy’s Camp Lejeune Claims Unit.
How to Protect Yourself from Fraud?
The official warning publication on the United States Marine Corps website advises to:
- Check credentials: Always verify the credentials of anyone offering legal or claim-related services. Genuine professionals will not hesitate to provide evidence of their credentials.
- Beware of upfront fees: Trustworthy legal services for CLJA claims are typically provided on a contingency basis. It means they are paid only if you win your case. Notably, this payment is capped at 25% of the payout.
- Do not share personal information: Keep your personal and sensitive information private. These may include bank details or social security credentials. You should not exchange such information via unsolicited phone calls or emails.
- Research and consult: Before hiring any legal service provider, conduct extensive research. Consult with well-known and reputable legal professionals who have handled environmental or military cases before.
- Report suspicious activities: If you come across a scam, report it to the responsible group. This can include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), local law enforcement, and the State Bar Association.
Navigating the Legal Process for CLJA Claim
According to TorHoerman Law, the legal process associated with CLJA claims consists of several steps. It begins with determining eligibility and progresses to gathering the necessary documentation. Associating with a reputable attorney who specializes in this segment can greatly simplify the procedures.
For many veterans, the decision between the Elective Option (EO) and filing a lawsuit is essential. The EO offers guaranteed compensation upon meeting specific criteria, a streamlined process, and no impact on VA benefits. In contrast, lawsuits can be lengthy, with no assured outcome. However, it has the potential for broader coverage of illnesses and compensation for damages not recognized under the EO.
Now, the VA handles disability benefits for veterans. On the other hand, the CLJA extends the possibility of suing for damages to family members and civilians affected. This Act allows individuals to seek compensation through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Hence, it highlights the importance of both the VA benefits process for veterans and the legal route for obtaining compensation.
In conclusion, potential claimants should remain informed, vigilant, and cautious. Considering the guidelines outlined above and consulting with credible professionals will allow you to navigate the claim process. This way, you can seek the compensation and justice you deserve. Remember that in the fight against fraud, staying aware and well-informed are your best allies.
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