As most people know, mesothelioma is a very slow-developing disease. Years or even decades can pass between your asbestos exposure and your first signs of illness. In fact, it is not unusual for victims to bring claims of negligence against their old employer 20, 30, even 40 years after they stopped working there.
A study of British workers who died of mesothelioma found a median latency period between exposure and diagnosis of nearly 23 years. Women’s latency periods were 29 percent longer than for men. The amount or intensity of exposure did not seem to shorten the time before symptoms first appeared. Most of the time, patients do not know they have mesothelioma until decades after they were exposed, usually through an old job.
You might wonder if you can still sue for compensation if your injury (in this case, exposure to asbestos) happened 20 years ago or more. In personal injury claims, the statute of limitations generally sets a time limit on when you can file suit. The clock starts after your injury or when you reasonably should have discovered your injury. But because mesothelioma is such a slow-developing disease, Louisiana law’s statute of limitations for mesothelioma cases starts after the patient is diagnosed or passes away. After that, you have one year to take legal action.
Still, that is a relatively short window of time. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma or a loved one died of this terrible disease, you may not have much time to seek rightful compensation. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to seek damages no matter how strong your case is.