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The statute of limitations for a mesothelioma lawsuit establishes a time limit for filing. The filing deadline begins after diagnosis for personal injury lawsuits and after death for wrongful death lawsuits. Typical time limits are between 1 to 4 years, but can reach 6 years. Mesothelioma lawyers can explain statutes for each state and lawsuit type.


01. Types of Statutes

What Are Statutes of Limitations for Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma statutes of limitations are laws that set time limits for filing a claim after a mesothelioma death or diagnosis. These deadlines vary by state and by mesothelioma claim type. There are designated timelines for personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits.

  • Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations: Timeline for the asbestos victim to file a lawsuit after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
  • Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations: Timeline for a family member to file a lawsuit after the death of a loved one from mesothelioma.

A mesothelioma attorney can confirm the statutes of limitations for a specific case. Patients and loved ones should file a claim as soon as possible to ensure eligibility for compensation from a mesothelioma lawsuit.

The deadline to file a lawsuit applies to the time of diagnosis or death. Statutes of limitations on mesothelioma lawsuits do not apply to the time of exposure. The time of asbestos injury is often too difficult to identify.

Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations

Compensation from a personal injury lawsuit can help patients with:

  • Treatment costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Lost income

Deadlines for filing a personal injury lawsuit start when a patient receives a mesothelioma diagnosis. This could be decades after asbestos exposure, because of the long latency period of mesothelioma cancer.

In other words, mesothelioma patients may not show symptoms until 10 – 50 years after initial exposure. This lapse does not affect eligibility.

Individuals cannot file a lawsuit without a medical diagnosis. If victims try to file prematurely to avoid missing a deadline, their lawsuit may not be successful.

Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations

Compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit can help family members with:

  • Outstanding medical bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost household income

The deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit starts when a family member has died of mesothelioma. Family members can file after the loss of a loved one to an asbestos-related death.

To file a wrongful death lawsuit, individuals must typically provide certain documentation. This includes evidence of asbestos exposure, proof of a related diagnosis and a death certificate.

Statutes of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits may be different from personal injury lawsuits. Plaintiffs should discuss options with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to determine their eligibility.

Statutes of Limitations for Other Asbestos Claim Types

Claimants may decide to pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit, trust fund award or Veterans Affairs (VA) claim. Deadlines for filing a claim vary by claim types. For example, a mesothelioma trust fund will have individual timelines.

Claimants should discuss potential timeframes with a mesothelioma attorney prior to filing their claim.

02. Factors Affecting Time Limits

Factors Impacting Mesothelioma Statutes of Limitations

How the statutes of limitations applies to individual cases is determined by:

  • Claim type: Deadlines vary for personal injury, wrongful death, asbestos trust fund and VA claims.
  • Timing of diagnosis or death: Mesothelioma claim deadlines are based on the date of diagnosis or death, regardless of when the victim was exposed to asbestos.
  • Type or number of diagnoses: Disease severity could allow for deadline extensions. Multiple diagnoses could also provide claimants with additional time to file a claim.
  • Location: The claimant’s residence, the location of their exposure and the location of the negligent company could all impact which statutes apply.

Mesothelioma attorneys will review the individual case to determine which factors apply to the claim.

03. Mesothelioma Statutes by State

Statutes of Limitations for Mesothelioma by State

Each state has its own statutes of limitations for asbestos claims. Below is a comprehensive list of time limits to file a mesothelioma lawsuit in each state. Timeframes typically range between 1 – 4 years.

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 2 years 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


04. Where to File

Where Should I File My Mesothelioma Claim?

Individuals need to consult with a mesothelioma attorney to determine where to file a claim. This will ensure the claimant is adhering to the correct statutes of limitations.

Which state a claimant files in depends on these factors:

  • Current place of residence
  • Previous place of residence
  • Jobsite or military base where asbestos exposure occurred
  • Current location of the asbestos company responsible for exposure
  • Previous location of the company responsible for exposure

Claimants should seek assistance from a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure they are within the mesothelioma lawsuit time limit.

05. Missed Mesothelioma Deadlines

What if I Have Missed the Deadline to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

If the statutes of limitations have passed for a mesothelioma lawsuit, there may be other options for compensation. There may also be instances in which a deadline has passed but the individual can still file.

For example, special circumstances may apply if a patient has multiple diagnoses. A patient may originally be diagnosed with a minor, asymptomatic condition related to asbestos exposure. They may then be diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma or another long-latency disease years after exposure. The timeline to file a lawsuit may then apply to their secondary diagnosis.

Pleural Registries and Inactive Dockets

Some states have pleural registries or inactive dockets. The dockets allow individuals to file within the mesothelioma lawsuit statutes of limitations, even if they have not developed a symptomatic illness. Processing and resolution of these lawsuits are delayed until the disease has progressed.

These dockets ensure plaintiffs do not miss their eligibility deadlines. They also prevent vague or unwarranted lawsuits from being filed prematurely.

Because of the asbestos lawsuit statutes of limitations, individuals should file as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis.

Claimants should always discuss their compensation options with a mesothelioma law firm. There may be other compensation options, such as financial help from insurance claims or VA claims (through the Department of Veterans Affairs).

06. The Discovery Rule

The Discovery Rule and Asbestos Claims

The discovery rule for asbestos claims initiates time limits after an asbestos-related death or diagnosis. This rule emerged from the Borel v. Fibreboard asbestos case in 1973. This case highlighted the difficulty of determining the precise time of asbestos injury.

The case noted it is unreasonable for claimants to pinpoint when they were initially exposed. This is particularly difficult for latent diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma that can take years to develop. Courts decided the statutes of limitations should apply to the direct results of a recognizable asbestos injury.

The discovery rule for asbestos claims helped claimants by extending the amount of time they are able to file a claim for compensation.

Since the discovery rule was applied to asbestos claims in 1973, it has been applied to all asbestos litigation. Mesothelioma attorneys can help victims determine how this applies to their individual case to ensure eligibility for financial help.

07. Common Questions

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Statutes of Limitations

What does statutes of limitations mean?

Statutes of limitations refers to a set of laws that define lawsuit filing deadlines. For mesothelioma cases, the statutes for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are the most relevant. If a statute’s time frame has passed, plaintiffs may not be able to file their lawsuits.

What is the time limit on mesothelioma claims?

The time limit for mesothelioma claims varies based on claim type and the state where the lawsuit is filed. For personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit time limits, plaintiffs can expect a range of 1 – 4 years. Some time limits go as long as 6 years.

Are there compensation options if your statutes of limitations expires?

Yes. Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may be eligible for other compensation options if their applicable statute’s time frame has passed. Other options include asbestos bankruptcy trusts and VA benefits. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help patients understand their options.