While many Veterans and their families question whether they should handle their own Camp LeJeune cases, there are numerous pitfalls that could adversely affect their cases. Under the Bill, the first step in the process is an administrative submission to the JAG. Once submitted, the JAG has 180 days to review the submission before we are able to proceed to file in North Carolina. As straightforward as the JAG process may seem, as the old adage goes, looks can be deceiving. The below includes some common questions/concerns we have received from veterans and their families.
Can I submit my own JAG form and then hire an attorney thereafter if the JAG does not resolve my claim?
The information you include on the JAG form will follow you throughout the litigation which could limit and/or adversely affect your claim once your case is filed in North Carolina. Due to the importance of the JAG form, if someone submits their own form without properly protecting their rights, an attorney may be unwilling to accept their case thereafter. Additionally, although the JAG process could result in an offer of settlement, we have not found that to be the case to date. It is our expectation that the 180 days will expire in the vast majority of claims without an offer from the JAG. Therefore, we believe it is best to hire an experienced attorney from the outset.
Is this similar to submitting medical records for a service connected disability?
No. This is litigation and not just any litigation. Veterans and their families are tasked with proving their claims against the largest and most powerful defendant, the Federal Government. This is not simply a medical records submission. Particularly, if your case is ultimately selected as a trial case in North Carolina, we will need to hire multiple experts, conduct numerous depositions, undertake motion practice and far more. However, we stand prepared to fight for our clients to obtain the justice they have been denied for far too long and our history of success against some of the largest defendants speaks for itself.
What if I have a Non-Presumptive Injury?
There are certain injuries that the VA currently considers presumptive injuries that are related to the contamination on Camp LeJeune. However, there are certainly additional injuries that may also be related. If you suffer from a non-presumptive injury, your case may require additional expert testimony and reliance on medical studies linking your diagnosis to the specific contaminates on Camp LeJeune. Non-presumptive injuries certainly have an uphill battle in front of them. However, this litigation is still in its infancy and additional injuries may be added as scientific studies continue.
What are the benefits of having an attorney at the time of settlement?
First and most importantly, your lawyer will make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Often times, defendants see clients who represent themselves as an opportunity to settle their claims for less than their actual value. Additionally, while most client believe that once a settlement is accepted, the work is over, a significant amount of work is required post settlement. If/when a settlement is offered, your attorney will walk you through whether there are any applicable medical liens (health insurance payments for the same injury alleged in your Camp LeJeune case) and whether there is an offset on the settlement amount due to prior disability payments. If there are applicable health insurance liens, your attorney will work to negotiate these amounts down to put as much of the settlement in your pocket as possible. Having a skilled attorney by your side allows you to accept your settlement offer with full knowledge and confidence that all required liens have been negotiated and repaid.
In pursuing your Camp LeJeune claim, you are entering a complex legal system. However, having a lawyer by your side is your best defense. Anapol Weiss stands ready to assist you in obtaining justice and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.