Asbestos Lawsuits and the Statute of Limitations

Most mesothelioma cases are a direct result of negligent occupational asbestos exposure. Victims and their families are usually eligible for financial compensation from the companies that mined asbestos, produced products containing it, or from companies that used large amounts of asbestos-containing materials. However, it’s important that you understand the statute of limitations governing these cases so you don’t lose your right to compensation.

There are two types of lawsuits for these types of cases — personal injury and wrongful death. Personal injury suits are filed when a person is still living and are typically governed by the date of diagnosis. Wrongful death suits are filed by the family after a loved one has passed as a result of an asbestos-related disease and are governed by the date of their death.

Lawyers specializing in asbestos-related litigation will often travel to you and your family, and your involvement with the settlement is usually no more than a day. It’s not the drawn-out trial you may imagine. You will not be responsible for any upfront legal fees or expenses when filing an asbestos-related lawsuit. Attorneys specializing in this type of law generally work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you do.

Because the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma case usually involves a relatively short time frame (three years on average), it’s recommended that you speak with a mesothelioma lawyer right away. They will be able to help you file a lawsuit, guide you through the process, and ensure you are adhering to the appropriate requirements.

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Personal injury mesothelioma lawsuits

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases varies state-by-state. Because of the long latency period (time between exposure and the first sign of symptoms) associated with asbestos-related diseases, they adhere to a different set of standards. Claimants negligently exposed to the toxic mineral often don’t know they’ve been injured until decades after the original exposure. The discovery rule has allowed the courts to change the structure, delaying the start date of the statute of limitations until the date of diagnosis.

Wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuits

A wrongful death suit is filed by the family of a loved one who has passed away from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition. These cases can be challenging, since family members may not know how or where their loved one was exposed to the carcinogen. A lawyer is essential in these cases. They will be able to help you identify the company or companies responsible and will ensure the appropriate suits are filed. This is especially helpful when suits must be filed against multiple companies or trust funds.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

Surviving family members including children, spouses, parents, and siblings may file wrongful death lawsuits. In some states, the time frames on these cases are shorter than on personal injury suits. If you’ve lost a family member as a result of an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, contact a specialty lawyer right away to ensure you don’t lose your right to financial compensation.

Where You Should File

Each state has its own governing statutes of limitations for both personal injury and wrongful death cases. When dealing with mesothelioma cases, it’s possible to file in multiple states if exposure happened in multiple states. Again, an experienced lawyer can be extremely helpful in facilitating your lawsuit filing.

The list below provides rough time frames for both personal injury and wrongful death cases by state. You should consult an attorney for the most up-to-date information. An attorney will also be able to assist you in determining where to file. States that you’ve lived or worked in and even states where the company responsible for your exposure was located can all factor into where you should file.

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

Statutes of Limitations for Asbestos Trust Funds

Since it was discovered that prolonged exposure to the mineral causes cancer and other diseases, patients and their family members began bringing lawsuits against asbestos companies. As a result, many of these companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In these cases, federal courts required the companies to establish trust funds in order to provide compensation to victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. These trusts currently amount to more than $37 million.

Because asbestos trust funds are established under federal bankruptcy law, the state laws governing statutes of limitations for lawsuits against still-existing asbestos companies do not apply to claims filed against trust funds. Instead, the timeframe for filing a trust claim is determined on a case-by-case basis and depends on a number of factors. Because of this, mesothelioma patients and families who are eligible to file claims against multiple companies often choose to pursue lawsuits against any still-existing companies first, as those are the most time-sensitive cases.

Speak With a Lawyer

It is highly encouraged that you work with a specialized asbestos lawyer when taking legal action in these types of cases. Your lawyer will ensure you and your family are protected and your chances of successfully pursuing a lawsuit and/or trust fund claim are significantly higher.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Because of the statute of limitations, it’s important to speak with an asbestos lawyer as soon as possible. Fill out a free case evaluation to connect with a leading litigation lawyer.

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