Many workers have been exposed to asbestos at construction, automotive, shipyard, and industrial job sites throughout the state of New Jersey. If you are from New Jersey and have been diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer, you are entitled to file an asbestos lawsuit to receive compensation for your injury. However, each state including New Jersey, has a certain time period in which to file a mesothelioma lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. Filing within this time period is crucial.
The New Jersey statute of limitations is set as two years from the date the cause of action accrued. N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-2 (2010). Many states follow what is called the “discovery rule,” where the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the plaintiff knew or should have known that he or she had a basis for a lawsuit.
New Jersey follows the “discovery rule” in asbestos cases, so the cause of action does not accrue until the plaintiff knew or should have known that he or she had an asbestos-related disease and knew or should have known that the disease was caused by exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing products. Lapka v. Porter Hayden Co. (2000) 162 N.J. 545, 553. And there is a separate statute of limitations period for each separate and distinct asbestos-related disease that may manifest. Ayers v. Jackson (1987) 106 N.J. 557, 583-584. In other words, a plaintiff who was diagnosed with asbestosis more than two years ago, but was diagnosed with mesothelioma less than two years ago, may bring a lawsuit as to the mesothelioma diagnosis.
If the individual diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease passes away due to that asbestos-related disease, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. N.J. Stat. § 2A:31-3 (2010). Heirs of the decedent may bring a wrongful death action regardless of whether the decedent obtained judgment against or settled with defendants or whether the statute of limitations as to the decedent’s causes of action had expired. Alfone v. Sarno (1979) 168 N.J. Super. 315. However, there may be a limitation on what damages the heirs can recover if the decedent already recovered compensation for those same damages. Id.
The time period for the person diagnosed or for the heir to file an asbestos or mesothelioma lawsuit is short. Getting help from an experienced asbestos law firm that specializes in asbestos related lawsuits can be key to obtaining not only financial recovery but also other resources, such as doctor and hospital referrals. The attorneys at Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason have successfully brought asbestos-related lawsuits for 30 years, and have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for our clients. Please contact the lawyers at Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason for a free case evaluation.