What Is a Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time that someone has to file a lawsuit. The length of time to bring a lawsuit varies by state and type of claim.
In mesothelioma lawsuits, the clock starts running at different times for two types of claims:
- Personal Injury Lawsuits: For a claim filed by a person with mesothelioma, the statute of limitations period begins to run the day of diagnosis.
- Wrongful Death Lawsuits: For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations period begins to run on the patient’s day of death.
The statute of limitations also applies to trust fund claims and mesothelioma class-action lawsuits. The latter is uncommon in asbestos litigation. Each trust fund sets its own time limits for filing a claim.
With few exceptions, claimants may be barred from filing a claim if they wait until the statute of limitations period has lapsed. This ends their right to file a claim. That’s why you should consult a qualified mesothelioma attorney as early as possible after a diagnosis or death.
Most statutes of limitations for mesothelioma claims fall within one to three years. If you fail to file in that time, you still may be able to file a claim in a different state with a lengthier limitations period.
Is My Mesothelioma Claim Within the Statute of Limitations?
Don’t guess about whether you still have time to file a claim – talk with an experienced mesothelioma attorney. They can review your work history, trace where your exposure to asbestos occurred and explain all your options for compensation.
The sooner you file, the faster you and your family could get compensation. A settlement or jury trial verdict could cover treatment costs and other expenses.
Factors Affecting Statute of Limitations
Several dozen different factors can affect the statute of limitations on your mesothelioma claim.
- Type of Claim: Different periods may apply to different types of claims. For example, a limitation on a trust fund claim may be different from a personal injury claim.
- Where You Live: You may be eligible to file in the state where you currently live or another state in which you’ve lived before.
- When and Where You Were Exposed: The state of exposure might be the best place to file. Additionally, the date when your exposure began and ended may influence your claim’s statute of limitation.
- Company Location: Sometimes the best place to file your claim is the state where the asbestos product manufacturer responsible for your exposure is located.
- Day of Diagnosis: The day of your mesothelioma diagnosis is one of the most important factors affecting the statute of limitations on your case.
- Degree of Severity: In some special cases, an extension gets granted. The severity of the diagnosis and how far along the disease has progressed play roles.
There are many complexities, exceptions and extensions involving mesothelioma statutes of limitations. It is best to speak with a mesothelioma law firm that specializes in this unique area of law to understand your options.
Which State Should I File In?
An experienced asbestos law firm can help you determine which state’s laws will apply to your case. You may have a right to file several claims under different statutes of limitations.
The best state for you to file in depends on several factors:
- States where you’ve lived.
- States where you worked and were exposed to asbestos.
- States of the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure.
Even if you think you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, you should start the process sooner rather than later. Gathering enough evidence to put together a successful claim will only get more difficult as time goes on.
If the statute of limitations runs out in one state, there may be opportunities to file in another state. An attorney helps with that.Joe LahavLawyer and legal advisor at The Mesothelioma Center
Applying a Statute of Limitations to Asbestos Claims
Applying a statute of limitations is straightforward in most personal injury cases. A claimant usually knows when the clock starts ticking because they know the date of their injury. But that isn’t always the case for asbestos personal injury claimants.
It usually takes at least 20 years after asbestos exposure for an asbestos-related disease to develop. Unlike most injuries, asbestos-related injuries don’t result from a single moment in time. Rather, these injuries result from a period of asbestos exposure over time, during months or years of someone’s work history.
For this reason, the day of diagnosis or death becomes the point of injury in asbestos claims.
Statute of limitations periods for personal injuries generally ranges from one to six years.
‘Discovery Rule’ for Asbestos Cases
The “discovery rule” refers to the date when the statute of limitations begins to run for an asbestos case. The limitations clock begins to run when a person is injured, but today this is different for asbestos cases.
The statute of limitations in asbestos cases generally begins at the time of diagnosis or death. It is the day of diagnosis for personal injury claims and the time of death for wrongful death lawsuits.
In 1973, the landmark asbestos case Borel v. Fibreboard addressed the difficulty of applying the traditional rule to asbestos claimants. Since then, courts have applied the “discovery rule” to asbestos cases.
The Borel case is also important because it was the first to hold manufacturers liable for asbestos injuries.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit noted a line of personal injury cases involving exposure to dangerous substances. Those cases held that a cause of action did not add up until “the effects of such exposures manifest themselves.” The court decided that the rule was also appropriate for asbestos personal injury cases.
The time limitation to file asbestos claims begins the day a person gets diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. While each state defines different time limits, most states offer two years. Claims filed even one day after the time limit may be rejected.
For example, John Castro received a mesothelioma diagnosis in February 2016. His exposure involved asbestos-contaminated talcum powder in Virginia.
He filed a mesothelioma lawsuit in February 2019 in New York. The court rejected his claim in April 2021 because he filed it three years after his diagnosis. Virginia’s statute of limitations, which is two years, applied to his case. His claim would have been allowed to proceed if he had filed a year earlier.
Compensation Options If Your Statute of Limitations Expires
If you believe your statute of limitations has expired, you still may have other options for receiving asbestos exposure compensation. Other compensation options include claims with the VA, disability insurance and health insurance.
Because statutes of limitations vary by state, you may not know what applies to your case. The best recommendation is to find a qualified asbestos attorney who can advise you on the right plan of action.
They can determine if you qualify for an exception or an extension. For example, in 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio made exceptions to statutes of limitations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A mesothelioma lawyer can also provide more information about your compensation options.
Common Questions About the Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma
- What does a statute of limitations mean?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time someone has to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. This time limit prevents people from filing an asbestos claim if they wait too long.
- When does the statute of limitations start on an asbestos case?
It starts with the date of a mesothelioma diagnosis, or, in wrongful death cases, the day of death. While the mesothelioma latency period can be several decades, the time window to file an asbestos claim may be as short as one year.
- Can a claim be filed in another state if the statute of limitations has expired?
If the claimant worked in several states during the time of their asbestos exposure, they might be eligible to file a claim in another state. Hiring a mesothelioma lawyer will help you file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations applicable to your claim expires.