What are the Attorney Fees for the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?

Camp Lejeune Attorney FeesA common question we get from people calling us about the Camp Lejeune lawsuit is this: “What are the Camp Lejeune attorney fees?” Well, there have been some changes for people seeking damages for their injuries due to water contamination exposure at Camp Lejeune since the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021  was first introduced and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was passed as part of the PACT Act in August 2022. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 clearly spelled out the permissible attorney’s fees. Specifically, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 provided that the attorney fees are limited to 20% or 25% of recovery or settlement, depending upon what stage the case is resolved.

However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 does not limit attorney fees. In other words, attorneys can charge whatever they choose to charge, so long as they follow the rules of their state. Thus, the typical personal injury fee, which is 33.33% if the case is settled presuit and 40% if the case is settled after a lawsuit or at trial, will likely be the standard attorney fees in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit for most law firms.

As we will discuss more below, we believe that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 was right to limit attorney fees 20% and 25% in those circumstances where the VA has determined a person is eligible for benefits because that person (1) served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days; (2) didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge; and (3) had one of the presumptive conditions listed on the VA’s website. We’ll talk more about that in this article.

What Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 Say About Attorney Fees?

The above description is a summary of the language from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 regarding attorney fees. Now let’s talk about the actual language from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021. The following language is straight from Section 2, Subsection (h) of the Act:

Section 2. Federal Cause of Action Relating to Water at Camp Lejeune.

(h) Attorney Fees. - Attorney fees for services provided to an individual seeking a remedy under this section shall be in accordance with section 2678 of title 28, United States Code.

As with many statutes and regulations, the Act points us to another Code Section. Specifically, it points us to Section 2678 in the US Code, which is sometimes called the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act provides the following about attorney fees:

28 U.S. Code § 2678 - Attorney fees; penalty

No attorney shall charge, demand, receive, or collect for services rendered, fees in excess of 25 per centum of any judgment rendered pursuant to section 1346(b) of this title or any settlement made pursuant to section 2677 of this title, or in excess of 20 per centum of any award, compromise, or settlement made pursuant to section 2672 of this title.

Any attorney who charges, demands, receives, or collects for services rendered in connection with such claim any amount in excess of that allowed under this section, if recovery be had, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

To put this in plain English, Section 2672 specifically talks about cases that are resolved through “any award, compromise, or settlement.” In other words, Section 2672 would apply to Camp Lejeune claims that are settled prior to litigation and thus without filing a lawsuit. In these situations, the attorney fees are capped at 20%.

Section 2677 and Section 1346(b) is talking about civil actions against the United States. In other words, these provisions apply to cases or lawsuits that have been filed against the United States and either result in a judgment under Section 1346 or a settlement or compromise under Section 2677. Therefore, the attorney fees cap rises from 20% to 25% once a lawsuit is brought against the United States, whether the case is resolved through settlement or judgment.

How Do We Calculate Attorney Fees as Provided in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021?

For example, under the 2021 Act, the attorney fees would be limited to 20% if the claim is settled before filing a lawsuit. After the lawsuit is filed, the attorney fees bump up to 25%. Therefore, unlike most personal injury cases where the fee is 33.33% pre-suit or 40% after filing the lawsuit, the Camp Lejeune attorney fees were originally going to be capped at 20% and 25%, depending on when the matter is resolved or settled.

Hypothetical – Camp Lejeune Claim Settles Before Lawsuit

Let’s say you hire an attorney to help you with your Camp Lejeune claim. Let’s also say your claim settles for $100,000 without the need for a lawsuit. In that case, your Camp Lejeune attorney fees will be 20% of the overall settlement, or $20,000.

Hypothetical – Camp Lejeune Claim Settles After Lawsuit

Now, let’s say you hire an attorney to help you with your Camp Lejeune claim. Let’s also say your claim was denied or the offer for settlement was too low for the damages you suffered. As a result, your Camp Lejeune attorney had to file a lawsuit and push the case forward. Months later, the case goes to mediation and settles for $100,000. Now, the attorney fees will be 25% of the overall settlement, or $25,000.

What Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 Say About Attorney Fees?

On August 10, 2022, the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, Public Law No. 117-168 or S.3373, was signed into law. Ultimately, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 (H.R. 2192) was essentially folded into the PACT Act under Section 804. The short title of Section 804 of the PACT Act is “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.” However, the provision we discussed above regarding attorney fees, a provision that was in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021, is not in the PACT Act. Therefore, the PACT Act does not cap attorney fees at 20% and 25%. However, we believe that, in cases where certain requirements are met, it should.

Some cases may be so difficult to prove that they require a tremendous amount of money and hours to prove, and thus these cases would likely warrant the typical personal injury fees of 33.33% presuit and 40% after filing. However, in those cases where a person has already qualified for VA disability benefits for having a presumptive condition, we believe attorneys should stick to the 20% and 25% attorney fees. It’s the right thing to do because a case like that will probably not require as much money or time to bring. These cases should settle fairly quickly, although there is no guarantee and there is no way to be certain.

Some Firms Are Charging Higher Attorney Fees for Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Regardless of the Unique Facts

It is our understanding that many of the firms advertising for the Camp Lejeune lawsuits are charging higher attorney fees than provided in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021, no matter the unique facts and circumstances. Namely, lots of firms may be charging the typical personal injury contingency fee, which is 33.33% pre-suit and 40% once a lawsuit is filed for every Camp Lejeune case. While each firm may choose how it conducts business, we don’t agree with this practice. As we mentioned before, in cases where the causation is clear, we believe attorneys should reduce their fees.

At our firm, we choose to stick to the fees provided under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 and the Federal Tort Claims Act where the causal link between the condition and the contamination has already been decided by the VA. Therefore, as described in detail above, our attorney fees for Camp Lejeune cases where a person has been deemed eligible for VA benefits with a presumptive condition, as described on the VA website for Camp Lejeune contamination, will remain at 20% of the recovery if the settlement occurs before a lawsuit is filed and 25% if a lawsuit must be filed.

At Our Law Firm, You Don’t Pay Anything Unless We Recover Money for You.

It does not cost you anything to hire us. If we take your Camp Lejeune case, you don’t pay anything unless we recover money for you. Our fees come out of the recovery, whether it’s a settlement or judgment. In other words, our attorney fees for the Camp Lejeune lawsuit does not come out of your pocket; the fees come out of the settlement.

Contact Us for Your FREE Legal Consultation with a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorney

At our law firm, lawyers do the consultations, not intake specialists or customer service representatives. Also, our legal consultations for all cases, including the Camp Lejeune lawsuits, are free. All you have to do is contact us on our website or call us at (321) 352-7588 in Florida or (843) 638-6590 in South Carolina or North Carolina to schedule your free consultation with a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney.