Statute of Limitations. What Does it Mean for Your Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Law and litigation present a number of challenges to anyone —whether you are the person bringing the lawsuit (the “plaintiff”) or the person defending it (the “defendant”).
Sometimes it can feel as though the injured plaintiff has more challenges to meet in bringing a case than the defendant who is accused of being negligent. When it comes to certain legal proof and procedures, that may indeed be true.
Take, for instance, the statute of limitations.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
In law, when you are damaged or wronged by another person, you have a limited amount of time to pursue your legal rights. If you do not act on your rights within the prescribed amount of time (with few exceptions) you will lose your right to do so.
Because this rule creates certainty in law.
This rule, called the “statute of limitations,” means that the defendant who injured or wronged you, will not be forever “looking over his shoulder” wondering whether he will be sued.
The statute of limitations requires you to file your case within a certain statutory time period. All states statutes that govern how long you have to bring your lawsuit. How much time you get depends on the state in which you live and the type of case you are filing. So, for example, the statute of limitations period for a breach of contract claim is different from the statute of limitations period for a personal injury action.
Mesothelioma and Statute of Limitations
Where things start to get difficult and complicated are in cases where it is difficult to tell when the time period allowed by the statute of limitations begins to run. Most statutes of limitations give a plaintiff anywhere from 1 to 6 years (sometimes a little more) to bring a lawsuit (depending on the type of case).
In many cases these short time periods are not a problem for plaintiffs. For example, if you are in a car accident, you will know when the accident occurred and when you were injured, so you will know how long you have to file your case. In other cases, like the breach of contract, it will generally be clear when the other party breached the contract. So, again, you will generally be able to tell when the statute starts running.
But in other cases these short time periods can present a significant bar to an injured plaintiff.
For example, if you contract mesothelioma, it can take up to 40 years for the symptoms to manifest themselves. That means that you will not know for 40 years that you were injured. Which in turn means you could not know you that you had a legal claim. But no statute of limitations, however generous, gives a plaintiff 40 years to bring his or her claim.
So now what?
Does that mean that no mesothelioma victim will ever be able to pursue justice for his injuries?
No. Of course not.
To prevent such an injustice, there is a legal concept called the “discovery rule.” This rule says that in certain cases, like mesothelioma personal injury cases, a plaintiff’s time to bring his lawsuit does not begin to “run” until he discovers his injury.
But once you know that you have been injured, you must act quickly. In Louisiana, a mesothelioma plaintiff has 1 year from diagnosis to bring his case. If a mesothelioma victim has already died, then his/her spouse or heirs only have 1-3 years from the date of death to file a wrongful death action.
Act Now To Protect Your Legal Rights. If you or someone you know has been injured due to the fault of another, call us. We are experienced personal injury attorneys. We fight hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve, and we offer FREE consultations. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. So call (225) 200-0000 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.