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
he 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|
|New Hampshire||3 years|
|New Jersey||2 years|
|New Mexico||3 years|
|New York||3 years|
|North Carolina||3 years|
|North Dakota||6 years|
|Rhode Island||3 years|
|South Carolina||3 years|
|South Dakota||3 years|
|Washington D.C.||3 years|
|West Virginia||2 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.
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 download your free mesothelioma guide.