What is the Deadline for Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Mesothelioma & Asbestos Published on February 7, 2022 and updated on December 14, 2022.

hourglass over clockMany victims of asbestos exposure have valid claims against previous employers or other parties, like product manufacturers. However, there is limited time to take legal action thanks to laws called statutes of limitations.

These laws set a period during which injury victims can file claims for compensation. Once the clock runs out, victims are usually prohibited from pursuing compensation, with rare exceptions. Even if you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run out, it is likely to be dismissed in court.

Many asbestos victims may be unsure about whether they still have time to file a lawsuit, as asbestos exposure often takes decades to cause mesothelioma or lung cancer. Statute of limitations are usually only a few years, so victims may think the clock has run out.

Below, we discuss statutes of limitations for mesothelioma/asbestos claims, answering common questions from victims:

  • What if I was exposed to asbestos decades earlier?
  • What if I was exposed in multiple states?
  • When does the statute of limitations begin to run?

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and have legal questions, the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl are prepared to help. There are no upfront costs or legal obligations.

Maryland’s Statute of Limitations for Asbestos Claims

Mesothelioma and lung cancer can be considered personal injuries, which might make you think the personal injury statute of limitations governs mesothelioma claims. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date of the injury, or the date the injury was discovered. The date you discover an injury may not be the same as the date it occurred, in which case, the statute of limitations would not begin to run until the date the injury was discovered.

Statute of Repose

However, Maryland law says there is a 20-year deadline for asbestos victims and their families to file claims for illness or death caused by asbestos exposure. This deadline is also known as the statute of repose. Victims and their families have 20 years from the date of asbestos exposure to file claims.

It is important to discuss a case that challenged the statute of repose and was resolved in 2018. The family of a steamfitter who died from mesothelioma was attempting to recover compensation. The steamfitter was exposed to asbestos on June 28, 1970, which was just three days before the 20-year statute of repose was signed into law.

Eventually, the Court of Appeals of Maryland allowed the case to proceed, as asbestos exposure occurred before the statute of repose became law. If the court had ruled against the plaintiff, they would not have been able to file a claim because they were outside the 20-year window. The victim was not diagnosed until 2013, 43 years after being exposed to asbestos.

The statute of limitations for mesothelioma claims is a complex issue that should be discussed with a licensed attorney. You should not make assumptions about your ability to file a claim until discussing it with an attorney who has handled these claims before.

Even though your asbestos exposure occurred decades ago, you may still be eligible to file a claim.

What if I was Exposed to Asbestos in Multiple States?

This is an important question because this is a complex situation. Some people worked in multiple states during their careers and may have worked with asbestos in multiple states.

Which statute of limitations applies? The statute for the state in which you currently live, or the state where you were exposed to asbestos?

This is a situation that should be discussed with a licensed Maryland-based mesothelioma attorney, as it is complex. Your claim may be subject to the statute in the state where most of your asbestos exposure occurred. Your claim may be subject to the statute in the state you lived when you were first diagnosed.

If you are in a situation where the statute of limitations has passed in one state but not another, your attorney may file a claim in the other state.

Call Today to Schedule Your Free Legal Consultation

Contacting a licensed attorney with experience helping mesothelioma victims can be an important step after learning about your diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one. An initial legal consultation is free and allows you to get answers to your legal questions.

Our attorneys have recovered billions in verdicts and settlements, including numerous recoveries for victims of asbestos. This includes settlements from some of the largest corporate employers in the nation and several asbestos trusts.

We are here to help and there are no upfront costs with our services.

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