Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a mesothelioma personal injury claim typically begins after the victim receives a diagnosis. This deadline starts at the time of death for a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for asbestos claims is usually 1-3 years or more, but mesothelioma claimants should speak to an experienced attorney to determine how long they have to file.

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What Is a Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations?

A mesothelioma statute of limitations is a law that sets the amount of time a mesothelioma victim or their loved one has to file a mesothelioma compensation claim.

The statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims differs from typical personal injury claims. Instead of having a certain amount of time to file after the offense occurred, mesothelioma case timelines begin after a victim receives a diagnosis — usually decades after the victim was first exposed to asbestos.

A statute of limitations is established in every court jurisdiction, although the exact time period varies from state to state and may be affected by several factors.

Generally, timelines for filing a mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease claim are around 1-3 years, but some state timelines are longer.

Reasons for Mesothelioma Statutes of Limitations

The purpose of having mesothelioma statutes of limitations is largely to protect accused people and civil lawsuit defendants. Statutes of limitations also help discourage people from abusing the court system.

Reasons for mesothelioma statutes of limitations include:

  • Assuming that any serious complaint would be promptly brought to the court’s attention
  • Discouraging lawsuits filed jokingly, to annoy someone, or having ulterior motives
  • Ensuring actions start while physical evidence is available and memories are fresh
  • Removing the threat of an indefinite lawsuit that can blackmail the defendant
  • Making sure courts are not caught in complaints that could have been long settled
  • Protecting the court’s integrity by refusing plaintiff claims that are late or ill-intended

This is a check in the system to ensure that plaintiffs report their complaint promptly and do not allow a defendant to be taken by surprise long after the alleged wrongdoing occurred.

Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma Claims

The statute of limitations on asbestos claims such as mesothelioma compensation claims generally have a timeline of 1-3 years after a victim receives their diagnosis. This differs from most personal injury claims.

Almost all civil law time limitation statutes begin when the issue, such as an automobile accident or slip and fall, first occurred.

It is easy to establish when these injuries occurred and reasonable that the plaintiff would take action shortly after. If they hesitate to file a claim before the statutory limitation deadline, the court takes the view that the plaintiff had their chance and it is not fair to the defendant to respond far in the future.

However, mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period, taking anywhere from 20-50 years after mesothelioma patients are exposed to asbestos for symptoms to appear and the patient to get diagnosed.

Our free Mesothelioma Justice Guide can help victims learn more about when and where they may have been exposed to asbestos.

The Discovery Rule and Mesothelioma Statutes of Limitations

Courts in the United States have a law called the discovery rule. In a personal injury case, the discovery rule serves as an exception to the normal statute of limitations rule that dictates that a wronged party’s timeline begins after the offense occurs.

The discovery rule applies to mesothelioma cases because:

  • After a victim is first exposed to asbestos, mesothelioma often takes between 20-50 years to develop.
  • A person exposed to asbestos decades ago would likely have no injury to prove within the normal statute of limitations.
  • The victim would not be able to point to a single asbestos exposure date that led to their asbestos-related disease.

For these reasons, all courts recognize that asbestos-related claims need to commence within a certain period limit after the disease was diagnosed.

However, once a patient knows they have mesothelioma, the courts consider it their responsibility to find a mesothelioma lawyer and file a civil claim before time runs out.

Statute of Limitations Periods by State

As a rule, United States federal courts have a four-year limitation of action for all civil cases. Federal courts also recognize the discovery of harm principle but can defer to a state’s statute of limitations.

Potential plaintiffs should immediately discuss the time limit with an experienced mesothelioma attorney as statutes of limitations may change over time and be adjusted according to individual factors.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

The statute of limitations for filing a mesothelioma personal injury claim may vary from 1-6 years depending on the state and the specifics of each case. Individuals should speak with a mesothelioma lawyer to determine their deadline to file a claim.

Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations by State
State Personal Injury Timeline
Alabama 2 years
Alaska 2 years
Arizona 2 years
Arkansas 3 years
California 1 year
Colorado 2 years
Connecticut 3 years
Delaware 2 years
Florida 4 years
Georgia 2 years
Hawaii 2 years
Idaho 2 years
Illinois 2 years
Indiana 2 years
Iowa 2 years
Kansas 2 years
Kentucky 1 year
Louisiana 1 year
Maine 6 years
Maryland 3 years
Massachusetts 3 years
Michigan 3 years
Minnesota 4 years
Mississippi 3 years
Missouri 5 years
Montana 3 years
Nebraska 4 years
Nevada 2 years
New Hampshire 3 years
New Jersey 2 years
New Mexico 3 years
New York 3 years
North Carolina 3 years
North Dakota 6 years
Ohio 2 years
Oklahoma 2 years
Oregon 3 years
Pennsylvania 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years
South Carolina 3 years
South Dakota 3 years
Tennessee 1 year
Texas 2 years
Utah 3 years
Vermont 3 years
Virginia 2 years
Washington 3 years
Washington D.C. 3 years
West Virginia 2 years
Wisconsin 3 years
Wyoming 4 years

 

Loved ones who have lost someone to mesothelioma may be able to file a wrongful death claim, but depending on the state and other circumstances, the statute of limitations may differ from the timeline for personal injury claims.

Statute of Limitations for Wrong Death Claims

In many states, there is no difference between the amount of time someone has to file a personal injury claim or an asbestos wrongful death lawsuit claim. However, some states give less time for wrongful death claims.

Statutes of Limitations for U.S. States
State Wrongful Death Timeline
Alabama 2 years
Alaska 2 years
Arizona 2 years
Arkansas 3 years
California 1 year
Colorado 2 years
Connecticut 3 years
Delaware 2 years
Florida 2 years
Georgia 2 years
Hawaii 2 years
Idaho 2 years
Illinois 2 years
Indiana 2 years
Iowa 2 years
Kansas 2 years
Kentucky 1 year
Louisiana 1 year
Maine 2 years
Maryland 3 years
Massachusetts 3 years
Michigan 3 years
Minnesota 3 years
Mississippi 3 years
Missouri 3 years
Montana 3 years
Nebraska 2 years
Nevada 2 years
New Hampshire 3 years
New Jersey 2 years
New Mexico 3 years
New York 2 years
North Carolina 2 years
North Dakota 2 years
Ohio 2 years
Oklahoma 2 years
Oregon 3 years
Pennsylvania 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years
South Carolina 3 years
South Dakota 3 years
Tennessee 1 year
Texas 2 years
Utah 2 years
Vermont 2 years
Virginia 2 years
Washington 3 years
Washington D.C. 2 years
West Virginia 2 years
Wisconsin 3 years
Wyoming 2 years

 

Wrongful death lawsuits filed by spouses or family members have different limits in various states. The personal injury and wrongful death periods can be higher or lower depending on how the statute is formed.

It is also possible for a family member to file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one passes away in the middle of an active mesothelioma lawsuit.

Retaining a Mesothelioma Lawyer

Filing a civil court mesothelioma claim is the first step in what can be a long and complicated case. It is vitally important to start an action within the limitation allowance.

Late filing is sufficient grounds to have a lawsuit dismissed, and the odds of winning a limitation appeal are low. This is why it is so important to retain an experienced attorney who specializes in mesothelioma cases as soon as a diagnosis is confirmed.

Do not let your chance for justice pass. Reach out to our help center today to get your free case review and learn if you may be eligible for compensation.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:

Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 6 Sources
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  3. LegalZoom.com, “What are the Statute of Limitations?”, Retrieved from https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-are-statutes-of-limitations Accessed on 24 January 2018
  4. Cornell Law School, “Time Limits on the Commencement of Civil Actions Arising from Acts of Congress”, Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/1658 Accessed on 24 January 2018
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  6. United States Department of Justice, “Time of Limitations Period”, Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-650-length-limitations-period Accessed on 24 January 2018
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