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Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum time limit for parties to initiate legal action. There are different statutes for different types of cases, and they vary by state. Those that apply to asbestos and mesothelioma cases are personal injury and wrongful death. However, asbestos personal injury cases are a special case with other rules that apply.

Understanding the time limit that applies in your case can be confusing. Relying on an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to make a case for justice and compensation.

What is the Statute of Limitations?

Every state has its own statute of limitations on lawsuits. A statute of limitations is a law that limits time for filing legal cases. For asbestos and mesothelioma, the statute of limitations sets a limit on the time after diagnosis an individual has to start a personal injury lawsuit. If a victim dies, these laws set a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The time limit on filing depends on the type of case and the state in which the suit is being filed. The time limit ranges from one to six years depending on the state. It is essential for victims and families to understand the statute in their state. This is one reason to hire a good mesothelioma lawyer. If you are unaware of the laws, you may miss your opportunity for justice.

The Discovery Rule

While asbestos and mesothelioma cases are considered either personal injury or wrongful death cases, there may be special considerations. These considerations can impact how the statute of limitations is applied. For most types of personal injury, the incident is obvious and immediately known. For example, if you slip and fall in a store, the time of the incident is clear. The statute of limitations starts running immediately.

Asbestos cases are more complicated. Patients may not know exactly when they were exposed to asbestos. In addition, it may have been prolonged exposure rather than one single incident that led to their disease. Furthermore, it can take decades after exposure to develop symptoms and receive a proper diagnosis. This means the statute of limitations may have passed before the diagnosis was even made.

These difficulties led to a challenge of the statute of limitations in a 1973 case, Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation. Clarence Borel suffered asbestos exposure for over three decades while working with insulation on the job. Borel was diagnosed with asbestosis more than 30 years after the initial incident of personal injury.

Borel sued Fibreboard, and a U.S. Court of Appeals agreed he could make his case despite being well beyond the Texas statute of limitations. The court decided that for cases of exposure to harmful substances like asbestos, the statute of limitations should begin when the victim experiences the effects of exposure. In other words, the clock would not begin running until the illness was discovered. This became known as the discovery rule.

Which State’s Statute to Follow

Having a good asbestos lawyer on your side makes this question easier. It may not be as simple as filing your lawsuit where you live and worked. Considerations that determine filing and which statute of limitations applies include your current residence, past residence, employment location when exposed to asbestos, and where the company responsible is located.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Asbestos Cases by State

Thanks to the discovery rule, the statutes of limitations in each state begin when the illness was or should reasonably have been discovered. The time periods listed here are not from the first time of exposure, but from official diagnosis of mesothelioma or another related illness.

  • 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
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 2 years
  • Nevada – 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

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Asbestos Cases by State

The statutes of limitations for wrongful death cases are more straightforward. They are always set from the time of the victim’s death.

  • 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
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 2 years
  • Nevada – 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

Getting Help in Filing Your Case

If you believe you have an asbestos-related case for personal injury or wrongful death, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. Look for a lawyer specializing not just in personal injury, but in asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Because these cases are specialized and complicated, you need a lawyer with the proper knowledge and experience.

The statute of limitations that applies to your case may not be immediately obvious. However, it will still limit your ability to seek justice and compensation. Rely on an experienced and qualified lawyer to help file your case before the limit has expired.

Page Edited by Dave Foster

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Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Sources
  1. Mehs, L.K. (1991). Asbestos Litigation and Statutes of Repose: The Application of the Discovery Rule in the Eight Circuit Allows Plaintiffs to Breathe Easier. Creighton Law Review, 24, 965-93.
    Retrieved from: http://dspace.creighton.edu:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10504/39872/43_24CreightonLRev965(1990-1991).pdf?sequence=1https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/493/1076/4552/
  2. Justia. (1974). Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Prods. Corp.
    Retrieved from: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/493/1076/4552/

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