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Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Asbestos Lawsuits

Lawsuits related to asbestos exposure technically fall into the category of personal injury. If you are considering filing an asbestos exposure lawsuit, it’s important to understand your state’s statute of limitations, which sets strict time limits on taking your case to court.

A statute of limitations is essentially a very strict deadline. Depending on the state, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case can range from one to six years. In Pennsylvania, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years. In most cases, if you are not able to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, the case will most likely be dismissed.

In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is straightforward because the time of the injury is easy to pinpoint. However, things become significantly more complicated when asbestos exposure is a factor. Due to the long latency periods associated with asbestos-related diseases, the date of injury cannot be traced back to a single moment in time. Instead, the injury may have been caused by a long period of asbestos exposure — usually several years of a person’s work history. And because asbestos-related diseases’ latency periods are significantly longer than any state’s statute of limitations, courts have been willing to make exceptions for asbestos claimants.

To address the difficulty associated with applying traditional limits on asbestos-related claims, courts apply the “discovery” rule. This states that the statute of limitations’ “clock” does not start until the effects of asbestos exposure begin to manifest themselves. That is, it starts once the claimant knows — or should have known — of the injury or illness.

To learn more about your rights after asbestos exposure causes health issues for you or a loved one, consult an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer.  

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