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Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for mesothelioma cases is an important filing deadline to understand when starting a legal claim for compensation. Illnesses caused by asbestos often do not get diagnosed until years or even decades after a person was first exposed. Thus, the mesothelioma statute of limitations generally starts on the date of diagnosis. The experienced attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little help mesothelioma victims and their families in the Pacific Northwest navigate these important rules and protect their right to seek compensation.

Key Takeaways

Asbestos products were often used in industrial trades during most of the 20th century because of their cheap production cost, durability, and heat resistance. Many workers had significant asbestos exposure when handling or working near these items. 

Exposure would occur when the materials broke down and released the tiny asbestos fibers into the air. The fibers could be inhaled or ingested and become embedded in the tissue surrounding the organs. Workers often face harmful effects from their occupational exposure years or decades later when they are  diagnosed with deadly medical conditions, including mesothelioma.

If you suffer from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you or your family may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the manufacturers, suppliers, landowners, and others responsible for your exposure to the material. However, people suffering from mesothelioma and their families must be mindful of the applicable mesothelioma statute of limitations, which places strict time limits on filing these cases. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations places a time limit on a person’s right to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file your claim before the deadline established by the statute of limitations, a court will likely dismiss your case, and you will lose your right to seek compensation. 

The length of the statute of limitations period varies based on two elements: location and the type of claim. Every state has its own laws establishing statutes of limitations, so how long you have to file a lawsuit will depend on the state you’re filing in. Often, state law sets different deadlines for different types of claims. Additional nuances may also affect how the statute of limitations applies in a particular case by lengthening or shortening the time limit.

gavel resting on law book

How Long Do Mesothelioma Victims Have to File Their Claim?

Unless a different statute of limitations applies, most mesothelioma patients and their families must follow the same time limits that apply to personal injury and wrongful death claims. These filing deadlines vary from state to state but are often a couple of years following the discovery of the illness.

Oregon’s statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims and three years for wrongful death lawsuits. Meanwhile, the deadline to file a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit in Washington is three years from the date of injury or death. 

The time limit usually starts on the date of the act or incident causing injury or wrongful death. Alternatively, the statute of limitations can also begin when you discovered your injury— typically the date you receive your mesothelioma diagnosis—or the date you should have discovered the injury when it is not immediately apparent. This exception is called the discovery rule, and it applies to most statutes of limitations on asbestos claims because people generally receive a mesothelioma diagnosis decades after exposure.

The Different Types of Mesothelioma Claims

Mesothelioma claims are available to the victims of asbestos exposure as well as surviving family members. If the mesothelioma patient is living when the lawsuit is filed, it will be a personal injury claim. In cases where the victim of mesothelioma has died, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by or on behalf of surviving family members. 

The key difference between a wrongful death claim and a personal injury lawsuit is who can file the action as the named plaintiff. Unique procedural rules apply to wrongful death claims in Oregon and Washington. For example, the named plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit is generally the deceased person’s estate, and the estate’s personal representative brings the claim. 

Deadlines to File by State

Below are each state’s statutes of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims.

State Personal Injury Statute of Limitation Wrongful Death Statute of Limitation
Alabama 2 years 2 years
Alaska 2 years 2 years
Arizona 2 years 2 years
Arkansas 3 years 3 years
California 2 years 2 years
Colorado 2 years 2 years
Connecticut 3 years 2 years
Delaware 2 years 2 years
Florida 2 years 2 years
Georgia 2 years 2 years
Hawaii 2 years 2 years
Idaho 2 years 2 years
Illinois 2 years 2 years
Indiana 2 years 2 years
Iowa 2 years 2 years
Kansas 2 years 2 years
Kentucky 1 year 1 year
Louisiana 1 year 1 year
Maine 6 years 2 years
Maryland 3 years 3 years
Massachusett 3 years 3 years
Massachusetts 3 years 3 years
Michigan 3 years 3 years
Minnesota 3 years 3 years
Mississippi 3 years 3 years
Missouri 5 years 3 years
Montana 3 years 3 years
Nebraska 4 years 2 years
Nevada 2 years 2 years
New Hampshire 3 years 3 years
New Jersey 2 years 2 years
New Mexico 3 years 3 years
New York 3 years 2 years
North Carolina 3 years 2 years
North Dakota 6 years 2 years
Ohio 2 years 2 years
Oklahoma 2 years 2 years
Oregon 2 years 3 years
Pennsylvania 2 years 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years 3 years
South Carolina 3 years 3 years
South Dakota 3 years 3 years
Tennessee 1 year 1 year
Texas 2 years 2 years
Utah 3 years 2 years
Vermont 3 years 2 years
Virginia 2 years 2 years
Washington 3 years 3 years
West Virginia 2 years 2 years
Wisconsin 3 years 3 years
Wyoming 4 years 2 years
Map of personal injury statute of limitations by state
map of wrongful death statute of limitations by state

What Factors Can Affect the Statute of Limitations for My Case?

The statute of limitations that applies to your mesothelioma lawsuit will depend on the law of the state where you file the claim. The following factors affecting the statute of limitations for asbestos lawsuits may apply to your case:

Can I Still File a Mesothelioma Claim if My Loved One Has Died?

Yes, loved ones can still file a mesothelioma claim when the person with the disease has already died by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to verify the applicable mesothelioma statute of limitations with an attorney as soon as you discover the cause of death was mesothelioma. Each state has specific rules about who can file a wrongful death claim. However, any compensation recovered will generally go to the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings.

close up of gavel in front of scales of justice

Can I Still Receive Compensation After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?

Missing the mesothelioma statute of limitations will likely lead to a court dismissing your case, preventing you from pursuing compensation through a verdict or settlement. However, the specific facts of your case may present an opportunity to “toll,” or pause, the original statute of limitations period and potentially extend the deadline.

Additionally, mesothelioma patients and others with asbestos-related diseases may be able to file asbestos trust fund claims. Companies that went bankrupt because of their asbestos liability established these trust funds. The state’s statute of limitations may not apply to claims seeking compensation from these trusts.

It’s Important To Act Quickly After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

The biggest takeaway is the urgency those with a mesothelioma diagnosis must have when they wish to pursue a personal injury case. Acting quickly is the only way to avoid missing the statute of limitations deadline.  Meet with an experienced attorney from our firm’s Portland or Seattle offices to review your case and determine how the statute of limitations may apply. 

Why Trust Bergman Oslund Udo Little With Your Mesothelioma Claim?

The help of an experienced mesothelioma attorney is essential for identifying all compensable damages in your case and managing the nuances of the legal process that could complicate your lawsuit. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling asbestos-related litigation and, in that time, have secured over $1 billion for mesothelioma victims in the Pacific Northwest. 

This work has given our attorneys the reputation as premier mesothelioma lawyers. Testimonials and reviews from our clients attest to the quality of our representation. In addition, we have earned recognition as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars in our field. Ultimately, clients continue to come to us for their mesothelioma claims because they know we care about their case and are committed to helping them get the best outcome possible. 

legal team at Bergman Oslund Udo Little, PLLC

Contact an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney Today

We understand that navigating the mesothelioma claim timeline is challenging, but our experienced attorneys are here to carry the burden for you so you can focus on your health. With your mesothelioma lawsuit deadline in mind, we tailor a strategy for your case to protect your right to seek compensation. 

Don’t let technical details such as filing deadlines stop you from exercising your right to get justice and compensation from those who caused your asbestos exposure. Get a free case review to discuss your legal options and the mesothelioma statute of limitations that applies to your case.

scales of justice on open law books
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Representing Asbestos and Mesothelioma Clients Throughout the Northwest.
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520 Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101

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1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204

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