After receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, you only have a short time to file a mesothelioma claim to hold the negligent parties accountable. Each state establishes its own set of deadlines by which a person must file their lawsuit when filing a claim.
However, the long onset of mesothelioma (and other asbestos-related diseases) requires that courts take a different approach to interpreting statutes of limitations for claimants of this type of personal injury. Read on to learn the details of filing a claim and how a mesothelioma lawyer from our law firm can help you.
The Deadline for Filing a Mesothelioma Claim After Your Diagnosis
In the case of mesothelioma claims, there are two different types of claims you could file for compensation, depending on your situation. Each of these claims has a statute of limitations you have to abide by. The claims are:
When a mesothelioma patient files a lawsuit to receive compensation for their losses, they must adhere to the personal injury statute of limitations established by the state in which they will file their case.
Some states may have a more lenient statute of limitations, while others could only give a year to file. It’s essential to know how long you have to file a lawsuit so you can be eligible for compensation.
When the surviving family members of someone who has died as a result of their mesothelioma diagnosis file a lawsuit against the liable party, this is called a wrongful death action. In this case, the plaintiffs filing on behalf of their loved one must adhere to the wrongful death statutes their state has set.
These deadlines may be the same as those set for personal injury claims, or, in some states, the wrongful death claim statutes of limitations are even shorter than the deadlines imposed on personal injury lawsuits.
To determine the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma claim, you must first decide in which state you will be filing your wrongful death lawsuit. Deciding which state you file in is a strategic decision with several variables. Your lawyer will know how to assess your situation while considering the following variables:
- Which states you or your loved one have lived in
- In which states you or your loved one were exposed to asbestos
- In which states the companies responsible for exposing you or your loved one to asbestos are located
- The state’s laws for personal injury or wrongful death actions
How does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?
You may have seen countless commercials about mesothelioma and its association with asbestos. But what about asbestos actually causes cancer? Asbestos is a toxic substance that enters the protective lining of the internal organs, which is known as the mesothelium, and inflames the tissue.
According to Penn Medicine, this inflammation causes pockets of scar tissue to form, and later on, harmful tumors grow in these pockets. These tumors can cause chronic pain and difficulty breathing as time passes until there is an official diagnosis of mesothelioma. Despite common beliefs, mesothelioma is not lung cancer.
Both mesothelioma and lung cancer can result from asbestos exposure, but they are different types of cancer. Both cancers can result in death if they are not properly treated in time.
Lung cancer can occur in any part of the lung, while mesothelioma is cancer that usually begins in the lining of the lungs, chest wall, or abdomen. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, whereas various factors, including smoking, exposure to radon, air pollution, and genetic factors, can cause lung cancer.
Determining When the Statute of Limitations Begins
Usually, the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma claim, as with all other personal injury claims, begins ticking when an individual is injured. However, when asbestos causes mesothelioma, it can go without detection for up to 40 years due to its long latency period. Often plaintiffs don’t know what precise moment the “injury” of the disease sets in, so this interpretation of the statute of limitations would not play fairly for the plaintiff.
Such was the thinking of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the landmark asbestos case of Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Prod. Corp., 493 F.2d 1076 (and several related cases involving “injuries resulting from exposures to deleterious substances over a period of time”). This case established that asbestos manufacturers were still liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, even years later. The plaintiff in the case, an asbestos insulation worker for over 33 years, was diagnosed with asbestosis, then mesothelioma, decades after his exposure.
When Borel sued Fibreboard, the court noted that the statute of limitations countdown did not commence until “the effects of…exposures [to dangerous substances] manifest themselves.” In personal injury law, this is referred to as the “Discovery of Harm” rule.
How Our Mesothelioma Attorneys Can Help You File on Time
One of the most important actions mesothelioma victims take is filing their asbestos claim on time. If you fail to do so, you will lose your opportunity to collect financial compensation through a claim. But our experienced team of mesothelioma lawyers can make sure that you file your claim on time.
Even though the time you have to file depends on your state’s statute of limitations, the details of your case, and the time you received your diagnosis, the statutes of limitations may be longer or shorter. Although there isn’t an average time limit to file, a majority of mesothelioma statute of limitations range from two to four years.
Our lawyers can give you a free consultation where we examine your case and determine exactly how long you have to file a lawsuit. We’ll use factors such as when your symptoms began, the company, employer, and other responsible parties’ negligence, and the severity of the health effects you’ve suffered to determine how long you have to file.
What Evidence do You Need to File a Claim?
When you file a mesothelioma claim, you must submit strong evidence along with it to demonstrate how the liable parties’ negligence played a role in your diagnosis. Our team can help you collect evidence to prove the liable parties’ negligence, such as:
- Death certificate, if your loved one died
- Medical records to prove the time of diagnosis
- Photos of asbestos
- Photos of any injuries you’ve suffered
- Company or employer records
- Training or safety manuals from the employer
Once we’ve gathered all the necessary evidence, we’ll start building your mesothelioma case. Whether it be a personal injury claim for you or a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one. We’re ready to help you recover sufficient compensation so you can recover financially after your diagnosis or your loved one’s death.
What Damages Can You Recover After Filing a Mesothelioma Claim?
If you successfully file a claim, you could hold the employer or company responsible for the economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered from your diagnosis. By recovering damages, you could relieve the stress of having to cover the costs for any treatment you need out-of-pocket. Victims of asbestos exposure could recover losses such as:
- Loss of income
- Medical bills
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of earning capacity
- Future lost wages
- Loss of financial support in a wrongful death case
Our law firm can help you recover these damages and any additional losses your mesothelioma diagnosis may qualify you for. In addition, we can give you a free estimate of the damages you could recover and your case’s value.
The Purpose of a Statute of Limitations
Almost every personal injury case has a statute of limitations, but why? There are two primary reasons why you only have so long to file a claim for your case. The first is to prevent local and state courts from being overwhelmed.
By having a deadline for claims, courts can efficiently handle claims that come in and move on to the next one. A statute of limitations also exists to prevent potential defendants from unfair legal action. Evidence fades over time, which is why most mesothelioma statutes of limitations are fairly short.
Even though the potential defendant could be liable, if the evidence isn’t strong enough to connect the exposure to asbestos, the defendant will not be subjected to paying damages or facing the consequences if the deadline has passed.
Call a Mesothelioma Claim Lawyer to Start Your Case Today
Rather than leave these monumental decisions up to your own guesswork or understanding of the law, you should consider working with an attorney who understands the legal strategies of filing, especially as they pertain to mesothelioma lawsuits.
Zanes Law knows how to trace the various facts and histories that come into play with these decisions, find out the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma claim in your state, and we have the resources to conduct the research required to ensure we make well-informed decisions.
We will do everything from A to Z to see that you recover the damages you deserve for your mesothelioma diagnosis. Call us today or fill out our contact form for a free case review and consultation.