People who have been affected by asbestos exposure, such as those who have developed mesothelioma, may be entitled to compensation. However, as with all legal claims, there are generally time frames associated with it. Mesothelioma claims are classed as personal injury or wrongful death claims, for which there is usually a two to three years’ statute of limitations from the date of exposure. However, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related conditions, have a very long latency period, sometimes as long as 50 years. This means that, by the time the condition is discovered, the statute of limitations has long passed. Because of this, exceptions are made for these types of conditions, with the statute starting to run from the moment of diagnosis.

Types of Statutes of Limitations

Every state has set its own statute of limitations for personal injuries, including for asbestos related conditions. Hence, there is always a time period in which a lawsuit can be filed and if that time-frame is exceeded, a victim will lose his or her right to claim for remunerations such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. Because mesothelioma in particular is a condition with a very poor prognosis, it is common for the surviving relatives to fail in making a claim, for which there is also set time limitation. As a result, different statutes have had to be applied.

1. Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

The personal injury statute of limitations applies for people who have recently received a mesothelioma diagnosis. This means that the clock starts ticking on the day of diagnosis. The statute of limitations can be very short, with states, such as Tennessee and California, having set it at just one year. Preparing a lawsuit for a mesothelioma personal injury case can take a very long time, which is why it is vital that patients need to seek legal advice as soon as they have been diagnosed. In many cases, a physician will also advise people to do this. However, receiving a diagnosis can come as a shock, which means people often have other things on their minds.

2. Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The second option is that of wrongful death, which is important if the mesothelioma victim has died, and the remaining relatives want to file a suit. This statute of limitations starts on the day the person who had the condition died, and is a new filing. This means that, if someone had started a personal injury claim but dies before the outcome, changes will have to be made to the lawsuit.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is generally the same as that for personal injury. However, there are states, including Florida and New York, where it is actually much shorter. Again, this can be a very difficult time for relatives, who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, but it is vital that they take action straight away.

It is also quite common that the relatives of a mesothelioma victim did not know that the condition was caused by asbestos exposure. They will have to prove a variety of things, such as previous work places and addresses, which can point to exposure. This takes time and time is often in very short supply.

Which Statute of Limitations Applies?

To further confuse the matter, people need to work out the state in which the statute of limitations applies, which is not necessarily the state in which they reside. Factors influencing it include where someone has lived, both now and in the past, where the asbestos exposure happened, which could be a military base, for instance, and where the company that is responsible for the asbestos is located, which can be either the place of employment of the asbestos manufacturer.

There are a number of states in which those who have asbestos related conditions, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, can receive so called ‘immediate trials’. New York City, for instance, has a dedicated asbestos case management judge. This judge has April and October trial clusters, which means that victims can receive accelerated court dates. This is particularly important for those who are terminally ill, for instance.

State by State Statutes of Limitations

The table below demonstrates what the statute of limitations is by state, depending on whether it is personal injury or wrongful death. No exceptions are made to these statutes, meaning it cannot be tolled and the right to make a claim will pass after that time period.

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