The statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims is the length of time patients and families have to file their lawsuits. Statutes of limitations on mesothelioma claims are typically one to three years after diagnosis. A mesothelioma attorney can help you with your case.

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:

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. 

While two years is the norm, some states provide four or more years to file a personal injury claim. Maine, Minnesota and North Dakota offer six years to file personal injury lawsuits. Roughly a third of states provide three years to file wrongful death claims, and two years to file is most common.

Some of the factors that may affect your claim include:

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:

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.

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 judicial time clock that you have to file your case before you can’t file it anymore. And that time period can vary depending on what state you live in. And once that time expires, you can no longer file a case, and you can no longer receive compensation.

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