Statute of Limitations

Every state and all asbestos trust funds restrict the amount of time mesothelioma and asbestos-cancer victims have to file claims against negligent asbestos manufacturers. These statutes of limitations vary by state and trust. If you miss the deadline, you miss the opportunity to recoup funds from at-fault companies.

Most states limit the time to file a mesothelioma or asbestos cancer lawsuit to between one and three years. Bankruptcy trusts typically have a statute of limitations of three years on claims. Because of this, it is important to act quickly after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases take decades to appear. This long latency period complicates the asbestos lawsuit process and statutes of limitations. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and help you avoid losing your right to compensation.

Statutes of Limitations Explained

Statutes of limitations are used in a variety of legal proceedings, including criminal and civil cases. In criminal cases, prosecutors have a limited amount of time to seek charges in certain cases. In some cases, however, the charges are so heinous there is no statute of limitations for prosecution, such as in the case of homicide.

In civil cases, plaintiffs have a limited amount of time to file legal action against defendants. After asbestos litigation began in the 1960s, judges and lawmakers enacted statutes of limitations for asbestos personal injury cases.

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Types of Asbestos Lawsuits

In filing an asbestos lawsuit, plaintiffs must decide if they will file a personal injury claim (filed by the victim) or a wrongful death claim (filed by the surviving family members).

  • Personal injury claim – The countdown to filing an asbestos personal injury claim begins immediately after a diagnosis. The deadline can be up to six years following a diagnosis. However, states that include California and Tennessee limit the time to file an asbestos lawsuit to one year following a diagnosis.
  • Wrongful death claim – The countdown to filing a wrongful death lawsuit begins when the mesothelioma patient dies. Most states have similar statutory limits as they do for personal injury claims. However, states that include New York and Florida have shorter time frames to file wrongful death claims than personal injury claims. Other states, such as California, do not award damages for the patient’s pain and suffering in wrongful death claims.
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Which State Laws Apply

Since each state has different rules for statutes of limitations, determining which rules apply to a single case can be tricky, particularly if exposure happened in several states.

Experienced asbestos attorneys look at several factors when determining the most appropriate location (or venue) to file an asbestos lawsuit. The factors include the following:

  • Patient’s places of residence
  • Location of patient’s job sites
  • Location of at-fault asbestos companies

Some courts have special rules for asbestos cases that provide accelerated trial dates for terminally ill patients.

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Statute of Limitations Problems

In most typical civil cases, the statute of limitations is straightforward, but asbestos cases can be troublesome because asbestos-related diseases take decades to appear and the asbestos statutes of limitations are generally very short.

In the case of asbestos wrongful death claims, statutes of limitations can muddy the waters particularly if a family member is not aware of a loved one’s asbestos exposure until after the death. For example, California state law requires survivors to file their claims within six months of the death.

Statutes of Limitations By State

Since each state had different rules as they apply to statutes of limitations, personal injury lawsuits, and wrongful death lawsuits, it is important for mesothelioma patients and their families to act quickly. The following is a chart of the various deadlines established by each state. To learn more information about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, contact our experts today.

StatePersonal InjuryWrongful Death
Alabama2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Alaska2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Arizona2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Arkansas3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
California1 Year from Diagnosis1 Year from Death
Colorado2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Connecticut3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Delaware2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Florida4 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Georgia2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Hawaii2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Idaho2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Illinois2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Indiana2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Iowa2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Kansas2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Kentucky1 Year from Diagnosis1 Year from Death
Louisiana1 Year from Diagnosis1 Year from Death
Maine6 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Maryland3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Massachusetts3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Michigan3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Minnesota4 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Mississippi3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Missouri5 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Montana3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Nebraska4 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Nevada2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
New Hampshire3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
New Jersey2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
New Mexico3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
New York3 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
North Carolina3 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
North Dakota6 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Ohio2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Oklahoma2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Oregon3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Pennsylvania2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Rhode Island3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
South Carolina3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
South Dakota3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Tennessee1 Year from Diagnosis1 Year from Death
Texas2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Utah3 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Vermont3 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Virginia2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Washington3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Washington, D.C.3 Years from Diagnosis1 Year from Death
West Virginia2 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death
Wisconsin3 Years from Diagnosis3 Years from Death
Wyoming4 Years from Diagnosis2 Years from Death