Provision Set Forth in Camp Lejeune Justice Act Will be Applied by US Government at Their Discretion
In this article, we will consider, but not attempt to answer, the forward-looking question of what financial effects any Camp Lejeune lawsuit “offset” reduction to legal compensation might have on cases filed pursuant to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
To date, this Camp Lejeune lawsuit “offset” reduction issue has not received much attention in terms of public discussion. Certainly, none in any of those seemingly non-stop daily TV ads; and very little, if any, on the many legal websites about Camp Lejeune water contamination claims found online.
For this reason, we want to briefly address some possible effects the so-called Camp Lejeune “offset” provision — the actual title of this Camp Lejeune Justice Act section appears in the excerpt set forth below — might have on the amount of legal compensation one might finally obtain for Camp Lejeune water contamination claims.
From SEC. 804. FEDERAL CAUSE OF ACTION RELATING TO WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA:
(2) HEALTH AND DISABILITY BENEFITS RELATING TO WATER EXPOSURE.—Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative— [emphasis added]
(i) any program under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
(ii) the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.); or
(iii) the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and
(B) in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
For the purposes of this article, from the above excerpt we will focus on:
- Part (2)(A)(i) concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): and,
- Part (2)(B) concerning “the water at Camp Lejeune”.
That is because parts (2)(A)(ii) and (2)(A)(iii) dealing with Medicare and Medicaid are more understood, as each is regularly dealt with in personal injury and wrongful death litigation matters under the concept of “subrogation”, as we explain next.
In summary, the US Government usually gets reimbursed from a lawsuit recovery for medical expenses which were paid by Medicaid and/or Medicare for an injury that was due to the actions or conduct of a third party. This is generally referred to as “subrogation”. Generally, attorneys involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases are required to inquire with Medicaid and/or Medicare about the existence of any subrogation lien concerning cases they are handling for clients who may have received those types of federal financial benefits.
Returning to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, it remains to be seen how the US Government will apply the “offset” provision set forth in this relatively new legislation. Some commentators are relatively optimistic that its effect will be minimal. They point out that the “intention” giving rise to this 2022 Camp Lejeune legislation was to finally get legal compensation paid to those individuals filing Camp Lejeune water contamination claims for certain types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and various other serious medical conditions.
However, we will just have to wait and see whether that optimistic outcome concerning this Camp Lejeune “offset” issue will be the ultimate result.
At the present time, we can say this about how parts (2)(A)(i) and (2)(B) of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act “offset” reduction will work. It appears that the Defendant US Government itself, and only, will make the determination for each successful Camp Lejeune lawsuit about how much money the legal compensation component will be reduced by due to “offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided” to the Plaintiff injured person by the VA previously.
In closing, the answer as to the financial effects the “offset” provision will have on a particular Camp Lejeune lawsuit is currently uncertain, and unknowable. But, no doubt, the (future) answer to this “offset” provision issue will be of interest to individuals who have a Camp Lejeune lawsuit that involves any prior “disability award, payment, or benefit” received from the VA.
The Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb is located in Wilmington, NC.
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Camp Lejeune Cancer Case Evaluation Form
Note: This Case Evaluation Form can be used also for non-cancer medical conditions linked to the Camp Lejuene contaminated water.