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Understanding Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos. Many individuals and their surviving family members have filed suit, but others may lose the opportunity to receive compensation because of the mesothelioma statute of limitations.

States place differing limits on how long a claim for compensation may be filed. The limitations may vary depending on whether it is the patient or the surviving family members who file.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations:

The personal injury statute of limitations varies from one year in California for someone still working to six years in Maine and North Dakota to never in California for someone already retired. That’s the amount of time from the diagnosis that the cancer patient has to file a claim. Meeting the relevant deadlines is easier with the help of a mesothelioma attorney. Preparing a lawsuit and filing can take a few months, and you can lose important legal rights if your filing is not timely enough in both personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations:

Wrongful death suits typically must be filed within two years of the individual’s death. Other states put the limit at three years, or one year in a couple of states. In New York and Florida the statute of limitations is much shorter for wrongful death than for personal injury, for example.

However, it can be difficult to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Family members might not know the individual got cancer from asbestos exposure. If they know it was from asbestos exposure, they may not know where and when the exposure happened, or whose asbestos products were involved. It takes time to realize this information is necessary and then even longer to find it.

For either type of claim, the various state limitations are very important. The applicable state statute depends on three factors:

  • Current and past places of residence
  • Job sites where asbestos exposure occurred
  • Location of the responsible company

Collecting this information can be time-consuming though. This is a bigger problem for wrongful death suits, because of the much-shorter statute of limitations, and the death of the person with the most personal knowledge of the facts.

Some states have special provisions for mesothelioma cases. In some cases, there can be immediate trials for people suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. In those states, individuals with terminal cancer may have their cases sped up. New York is one state with an “immediate trial” rule.

This slow-moving form of cancer has affected thousands of blue-collar workers who worked in shipyards, general construction, and manufacturing industries. Companies that made asbestos-containing products have been sued many times in many states, in part because they have disregarded the risks of working around asbestos.

If you have mesothelioma or had a family member die of this asbestos-related cancer, don’t let the mesothelioma statute of limitations pass. Check your state law to see how long you have to file your claim and contact a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. Our law firm has over 40 years of experience representing families who were affected by a loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

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