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Understanding Camp Lejeune’s “Elective Option” Settlement Offer

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Marines and loved ones who have filed a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim may be offered a financial lump sum to end their claims early through what is being called the Elective Option (EO). Under the Elective Option, an eligible claimant can be offered up to $550,000 to resolve their administrative claim or lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of 2022.

If you were harmed by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and filed a CLJA administrative claim, you may be contacted by the Department of the Navy or Department of Justice to accept an offer through the Elective Option program – but should you? Before you sign anything, you should learn more about the Elective Option and always talk to an attorney.

What You Should Know About the Camp Lejeune Elective Option

On 6 September 2023, the Department of Justice and Department of the Navy (DON) announced a voluntary process, call the “Elective Option,” to help claimants quickly resolve qualifying claims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.

What medical conditions qualify under the Elective Option?
The Elective Option may only be offered for the following health conditions that have been linked to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer,
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Leukemias
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Kidney Disease / End Stage Renal Disease
  • Systemic Sclerosis / Systemic Scleroderma

If you have not been diagnosed with one of these medical conditions, you cannot be eligible for EO.

Will I get a $550,000 settlement through the Camp Lejeune Elective Option?
The Elective Option does not guarantee any Camp Lejeune claimant a settlement offer. And if a claimant does qualify, the amount is certainly not guaranteed to be $550,000. Instead, $550,000 is the maximum allowable amount under the Elective Option program, and the Department of the Navy website states that “some eligible claimants will receive less […]”. The lowest one-time payment that can be received through the Elective Option is reportedly $100,000.

How does the Elective Option calculate a settlement offer to an eligible claimant?
To calculate a settlement offer given to an eligible claimant under the Elective Option, the federal government mainly considers the claimant’s diagnosed medical conditions and how much time that claimant was exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. The Elective Option offers different settlement amounts for claimants who were at Camp Lejeune for 30 to 364 days; 1 year to 5 years; and more than 5 years.

Can I still sue if I accept the Camp Lejeune Elective Option?
No, once you accept the Elective Option for a Camp Lejeune administrative claim or lawsuit, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit for additional damages. Part of the Elective Option’s “deal” is that you accept the settlement and agree to take no further legal action against the federal government for any harm or losses related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

What happens if I was diagnosed with more than one injury linked to Camp Lejeune’s water contamination? Can I recover for both injuries?
No. This is a major potential drawback to the Elective Option for some claimants. Under the Elective Options, claimants can only qualify for one settlement offer. If you have multiple injuries or illnesses linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination, any EO offer should represent an amount based on the “worst” of your injuries/illnesses. Thus, you can only be compensated for a single harm or injury.

Does it matter when I was first diagnosed or treated for the condition (i.e. Is there a latency requirement for the Elective Option)?
Yes. In order to be eligible for an EO offer, you must have one of the eight medical conditions listed above. Furthermore, these medical conditions would have to have been diagnosed within 35-years of your last exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. As an example, a Marine who was exposed to the contaminated water at 20 years old must be diagnosed with a qualifying injury by age 55 in order to qualify under the Election Option. Of note, if your diagnosis date occurs after the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed into law in August 2022 then you would be deemed ineligible by the Federal Government.

How long do I have to accept a Camp Lejeune Elective Option offer?
The Department of Justice only allows claimants 60 days upon receiving an Elective Option settlement offer to accept and sign it, except for extremely rare and limited circumstances.

If I accept an Elective Option, how long does it take to receive the settlement payout?
The federal government has stated that Elective Option compensation will arrive as a one-time payment, usually within 60 days after the settlement offer is accepted by the claimant.

Do Camp Lejeune Elective Option offers offset my military benefits?
The federal government has stated that accepting an Elective Option should not create any unintended benefits offsets, such as with benefits and coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), TRICARE, Medicaid, or Medicare.

Can you get an Elective Option offer if your Camp Lejeune lawsuit has entered litigation?
Currently, the Department of the Navy is not offering Elective Option to claimants who have already entered litigation for a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. However, the Department of Justice has made several dozen offers to eligible plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court. It should be noted that the majority of EO offers extended by the Department of Justice have been rejected by the claimant or plaintiff. .

What happens if you don’t qualify for the Camp Lejeune Elective Option?
Claimants who don’t qualify for the Elective Option should still file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy.

Is the Camp Lejeune Elective Option Right for You?

The Elective Option offer may be in the best interest of some claimants or plaintiffs, but there will likely be many more other who will not benefit from it based on the strict eligibility requirements, such as latency, and the limited number of medical conditions.

Furthermore, claimants who suffer from multiple compensable medical conditions due to the contaminated water may not be fairly compensated under the Elective Option, which limits recovery to only a single injury.

Claimants who accept EO settlement offers forfeit their right to use another claim or lawsuit to pursue further damages. Whatever you get in the settlement would be all you could ever get for the harm Camp Lejeune’s toxic water has done to you and your family.

Before you sign a Camp Lejeune Elective Option settlement offer, talk to Military Justice Attorneys and do it quickly. You likely have 60 days or fewer to either accept the offer or request a reconsideration for a better offer. Contact Military Justice Attorneys as soon as possible, so we can help you review the Elective Option settlement offered to you and decide if it is fair before any legal time limits expire.

Why do so many people nationwide pick Military Justice Attorneys for legal counsel?

  • We are a veteran-owned and operated law firm that specializes in the representation of active-duty service members and veterans.
  • At MJA, ALL our attorneys were active-duty Marines. To us, this is personal.
  • Our attorneys have more than 75 years of combined legal experience and have committed their lives to fighting for service members and their families.

To learn more about the Camp Lejeune Elective Option, or to get help deciding if you should accept a settlement offer, call (843) 773-5501 right away.