What Is the Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Claims?
- Casey Hamm
- August 14, 2019
Each state establishes its own set of deadlines by which a person must file their lawsuits in relation to mesothelioma claims. This time limit is typically quite short. However, the long onset for 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.
Pegging the Starting Point for a Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations
Usually, the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma claim (as with all other personal injury claims), the clock begins ticking when an individual is injured. However, because mesothelioma can go without detection for up to 40 years, often with a plaintiff not knowing at what precise moment the “injury” of the disease set in, 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, an asbestos insulation worker for over 33 years, was diagnosed with asbestosis, then mesothelioma, decades after his exposure.
When Borel sued Fibreboard, the court made note that the statute of limitations countdown did not commence until “the effects of…exposures [to dangerous substances] manifest themselves.”
This is referred to as the “Discovery of Harm” rule.
The Deadline for Filing a Mesothelioma Claim After Manifestation
In the case of mesothelioma claims, two types of statutes of limitations may apply:
Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations
When a mesothelioma patient files a lawsuit to receive compensation for their losses, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages, they will need to adhere to the personal injury statute of limitations established by the state in which they will file their case.
Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations
When the surviving family members of someone who has died as a result of their mesothelioma file a lawsuit against the liable party, this is called a wrongful death action. In this case, the plaintiffs 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 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 lawsuit. This is a strategic decision, with several variables in play. 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
Call a Mesothelioma Claim Lawyer Can Help You Get Your Filing Strategy Right
Rather than leave these monumental decisions up to your own guesswork or tangential understanding of the law, 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, can 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 these decisions are well-informed.
We will do everything from A to Z to see that you recover the damages you deserve for your mesothelioma diagnosis. Call us today for a free case review and consultation at (866) 499-8989.
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